Table of Contents
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- Editorial Staff
- Associate Editors
- Bibliographical Essay: Justus D. Doenecke, the Anti-interventionist Tradition: Leadership and Perceptions
- I: Freedom, Choice, and Social Stability
- Locke As a Revolutionary
- Smith, Commerce & the Common Good
- Antifederalism: Military & Civilian Concerns
- Isaiah Berlin: Pluralism Vs. Rationalism
- Feyerabend On Freedom and Diversity
- Braudel, History, and Patterns
- Vouchers, Education & Choice
- II: Government, Violence and Social Instability
- Bryan & Moralistic Foreign Policy
- War and Social Change
- Dewey, Pragmatism, and War
- Militarism: a Domestic & Foreign Affair
- Western Support For Apartheid
- U.s. Pacification of the Hopi
- The Celtic South: the Aftermath of War
- The U.s. & Mexico: the Drug Connection
- Political Violence In Guatemala
- The Monroe Doctrine & National Policy
- Imperialism's Cost In Human Suffering
- The Strategy and Logistics of Empire
- Presidential Power Vs. the Press
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Principles of Economics
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Economics as a Coordination Problem
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America's Great Depression
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Power and Market: Government and the Economy
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Capital, Interest, and Rent
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The Economic Point of View
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Capital and its Structure
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Capital, Expectations, and the Market Process
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The Economics of Ludwig von Mises Edited with an introduction
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John E. Bailey, III
University of Missouri
M. E. Bradford
University of Dallas
University of West Florida
Douglas Den Uyl
Edward C. Facey
John N. Gray
Jesus College, Oxford University
M. E. Grenander
SUNY at Albany
Institute for Humane Studies
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University of California, Los Angeles
Reason Foundation, Santa Barbara
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New York University
New York Council for the Humanities
University College, Cork, Ireland
Ellen Frankel Paul
Bowling Green, Ohio
Joseph R. Peden
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John T. Sanders
Rochester Institute of Technology
University of Minnesota
University of Newcastle
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University of Florida
Rochester Institute of Technology
George Mason University
Trenton State College
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Santa Barbara, California
For half a century Herbert Hoover (1874–1964) was an important spokesman for American values. Raised in Iowa and Oregon, he was one of the first students at Stanford University under its distinguished founder, David Starr Jordan (coming to Stanford from the presidency of Indiana University, Jordan was one of the most knowledgeable of the many prominent persons who spoke out boldly in the anti-imperialistic cause during the Spanish-American War and the suppression of Philippine independence). Hoover's training in geology at Stanford should not mislead us into viewing him as a narrowly trained engineer lacking a global vision. Hoover received a broad-based education at Quaker academies in West Branch, Iowa and Newberg, Oregon; and, after graduating from Stanford, he took advantage of opportunities for extensive self-education and far-flung travels. His career in mining took Hoover not only to the gold mines of the western United States but also to other mines throughout the world: in Australia, China, Russia, Burma, Italy, and Central America. From his offices in San Francisco, New York, and London, Hoover travelled by boat throughout nearly two decades to supervise his extensive business interests in such distant locations as Australia and China. Our understanding of this early part of Hoover's career has been illuminated by the biographical studies of Professors David Burner and George Nash, who inform us that during those long voyages Hoover read many thousands of volumes. Hoover's skillful 1912 translation from the Latin of Georgius Agricola's mining treatise De Re Metallica displays only one facet of his vast knowledge. Another indication of Hoover's ongoing passion for developing his mind was his decision to make his home on the Stanford campus for long periods of time.
Yet, when he returned to the United States following the First World War and the Versailles Conference, Hoover judged that the learning available in universities was inadequate to deal with the turbulent new world emerging from those cataclysms. The economic catastrophe of the First World War had shaken the stability of the laissez-faire capitalist world order. The nineteenth-century classical liberal ideas that Hoover had studied had proved powerless to defend capitalism; they had failed to prevent a protracted world conflict that dissipated the hard-won capital accumulation of an entire century. Hoover responded to this tragic situation by founding at Stanford the Hoover Institution on War, Revolution and Peace (1919) and the Food Research Institute (for the most important long-term material problems). Hoover's research institutions were intended to study how to achieve the peace so necessary for capitalist institutions, and also how to avoid wars whose economic dislocations would lead to socialist revolutions.
Hoover had headed the wartime Food Administration in Washington as well as the postwar Supreme Economic Council and the American Relief Administration in Europe (with Robert A. Taft serving as his legal advisor in each). Having devoted their energies during World War I and the immediate postwar period devising how to feed Americans and then all of Europe (in 1921, Hoover also headed a relief organization to provide food for the famine-ridden Soviet Union), Hoover and Taft had time, following the Versailles Conference, to reflect and draw lessons. America had entered the First World War at the very point when all belligerents were exhausted and faced with the need to negotiate a settlement. America's intervention upset the balance, gave one side the advantage, thus precluding a negotiated settlement while undermining the institutions of the Central Powers. However Russia, one of the Allies, though thoroughly exhausted, remained in the war at America's behest and suffered the consequence of the Bolshevik Revolution. Later, the agonies of the prolonged war inspired other Communist revolutions that wracked Germany and eastern European countries.
This fateful connection between war and the rise of socialism was evident to Hoover. All countries came out of the war with government intervention vastly increased, whether they maintained the form of democracy or opted for socialism or fascism. This cycle of war-spawned degeneration was continued with the Great Depression being the economic consequence of the First World War and with the unfair Versailles Treaty ushering in Nazi electoral victories in Germany and similar backlashes elsewhere. As thirty-first president of the United States, Hoover faced the effects of war and economic interventionism in both domestic and foreign policy.
The Great Depression generated major new problems in foreign policy to match those of America's domestic disarray. The most serious foreign crisis faced by the Hoover presidency was a direct consequence of the domestic economic crisis and concerned Japanese activities in Manchuria. The Great Depression caused many governments, including the United States and Great Britain, to respond with increased trade protectionism. As a result, Japan was increasingly shut out of markets it had gained after 1914 from its increased productivity and capital accumulation while other nations were consuming their capital in the First World War and its postwar dislocation of their finances. Japan lost markets in British India and other major colonies controlled by Western powers.
In response to this economic warfare, Japan sought a situation equal to the Western Powers with regard to Manchuria, a recent addition to China. To resolve this threatening problem with Japan, Hoover opted for one of two competing state department approaches. Overruling the aggressive state department position, which would have built up China and other major powers in the northern far East (such as the Soviet Union) in order to operate antagonistically toward the Japanese, Hoover endorsed the alternative state department policy aiming at a negotiated settlement between China and Japan. By this more conciliatory policy, Hoover sought to maintain reasonable relations between the United States and Japan, and remove an opportunity for the Soviet Union to gain at the expense of United States-Japanese relations. Hoover's decision has been recognized as a major milestone in peaceful statesmanship. The New Deal's reversal of Hoover's policy led ultimately to American economic restrictions on Japan and Japan's predictable attempt to escape those consequences through military responses.
Herbert Hoover, Robert A. Taft, and other Americans warned that an aggressive foreign policy would lead to war. They argued with all their resources against the New Deal foreign policy that made inevitable America's going to war. Without American intervention, the existing conflicts in China and in Europe could have been concluded by negotiated settlements. Or, in the case of the Soviet-Germany conflict, reasoned Hoover, one could expect the mutual destruction of two equally reprehensible regimes. Hoover perceived that the alternative to America remaining at peace involved a sad litany of disaster: further growth and institutionalization of interventionism in the American economy, protracted war with more hundreds of millions of people suffering the economic dislocation which in the past had led others to communism, and an increased role in international affairs on the side of whichever powers the United States became an ally—the Soviet Union, or Germany and Japan. Once the United States entered the Second World War, this same noninterventionist reasoning was presented to criticize the ‘unconditional surrender doctrine’ directed against the Axis powers by Britain, United States, and the Soviet Union. Hoover believed an early negotiated end of the war would have positive effects on the American economy (especially the dollar), would cause less economic dislocation (and thus fewer millions falling under communism), and also cause less of an increase in the power of the Soviet Union while keeping it balanced by a ‘conditionally surrendered’ Germany and Japan.
The post-World War II international situation confirmed for Hoover his worst fears regarding American intervention into the war. Without a negotiated settlement between China and Japan, the prolonged war destroyed China's economic, social, and political institutions, thereby creating a vacuum in which communism was able to gain victory. Again, the American refusal to consider a negotiated peace with Japan opened the door to Soviet occupation of Manchuria. As Hoover had predicted, many hundreds of millions of people in Asia and in Europe emerged from the devastations and interventions of war with communist institutions.
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The Anti-interventionist Tradition: Leadership and Perceptions
- New College of the University of South Florida
Transformation: International and National
Of all the decades of this century, one might well argue that the 1940s was the most significant. Within a ten year span, the Soviet Union became one of the world's two great superpowers, a mighty Germany was divided in half and substantially reduced in size, and the far-flung Japanese empire was destroyed. Both Britain and France lost major parts of their empires in Africa and Asia, and witnessed these regions being dominated by indigenous nationalist governments.
The United States too was radically transformed. Never an insular power, it had long been an empire with dominions beyond the seas. Yet, with the advent of World War II, the nation found itself fighting in such varied places as Tarawa, Messina, the Ardennes, and northern Burma. Then, when the conflict was over, the United States underwrote the economy of Western Europe and encircled the globe with a string of air bases. In 1949, it entered into a binding military alliance with some eleven different powers, and in the process made commitments that exceeded the most ambitious dreams of Woodrow Wilson. Within ten years after the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, the United States was fighting Communist forces in Korea.
Internally the change in the United States was equally radical. Military Keynesianism created the greatest economic boom since the 1920s, but it was a boom that made the economy increasingly dependent upon armament spending. A massive government bureaucracy found its counterpart in huge corporate conglomerates, often subsidized by a defense-minded government and finding their own counterparts in large and powerful trade unions. Small enterprises were becoming steadily less important to the economy. Although the term agribusiness was not yet in vogue, large farms were increasingly displacing smaller and less efficient units. The accompanying social and geographical mobility—more women occupying fulltime jobs, massive migration of blacks and Chicanos—produced accompanying strains, as seen in higher divorce rates, racial violence, and juvenile delinquency.
A country engaged in fighting external evil and totalitarian forces found itself equally concerned with rooting out such forces within. Hence, in the forties, the United States experienced a battery of sedition trials, loyalty checks, and congressional investigating committees, all of which generated a climate far from friendly to dissent. The government, through such bureaus as the Office of War Information, fostered its own propaganda, one initially revealed in war bond drives and Hollywood battle films. Furthermore, with a press, cinema, publishing industry, and radio broadcasting (and later television) becoming increasingly centralized, minority voices had fewer outlets.
“Isolationism”: A Matter of Definition
Some Americans found such developments inevitable. One does not have to be steeped in the sociological analysis of a Max Weber to claim that such bureaucratization was bound to occur, particularly in time of cold or hot war. Other Americans, however, believed that such rationalization of both economy and society could be halted, or at least considerably slowed down, especially if the United States avoided full-scale military conflict. These Americans were often labelled “isolationists,” a term that did little justice to either the complexity of their position or the reasoning behind it.
In the best short essay yet published on the history and nature of isolationism, Manfred Jonas defines the position as “the avoidance of political and military commitments to or alliances with foreign powers, particularly those in Europe.”1 As Jonas notes in his own work, there is far more to the position of most isolationists than sheer withdrawal, or (to use the phrasing of one historian) acting like “that species of bird which, when threatened, simply goes on pecking the ground until danger passes—or it is slain.”2 So-called isolationists often sought to increase foreign trade, endorsed noncoercive forms of international organization, fostered cultural interchange, and supported relief and recovery. In fact, they might take pains to deny they were isolationists, preferring the name anti-interventionist, neutralist, or nationalist. In the decade before Pearl Harbor, they differed among themselves on a variety of issues, including a navy based upon battleships, retention of the Philippines and Guam, the desirability of peacetime conscription, and recognition of the Soviet Union. What they shared in common was unilateralism in foreign affairs, that is, in the sense of rejecting binding military commitments, and war.
A Variety of Explanations
During the past twenty years, there has been a resurgence of scholarship on noninterventionism, and a complete annotated bibliography takes up a small monograph.3 In addition, historians have offered various explanations for this phenomenon, all of which interpretations have their limitations. Some argued that isolationism was rooted in such ethnic groups as German and Irish-Americans, although the great majority of isolationists came from Anglo-Saxon backgrounds.4 Others saw isolationism grounded in middle-western Populism, although it was later noted that the Mississippi Valley had long possessed a heritage of overseas expansion and imperialism.5 Still others asserted that isolationism was a form of ethnocentrism, with an insecure and xenophobic “in-group” projecting its fears and self-hatreds upon all “outsiders.” Driven by an “authoritarian personality,” the isolationists were striking out blindly at a world they never made.6 Yet such oversimplifying sociological and psychological explanations—as this essay will show—ignore those prominent isolationists very much linked to the major political and economic institutions. Certain researchers find the key lying in Republican political partisanship, but in the process neglect the large numbers of Democrats opposed to foreign commitments. Similarly, explanations based on small-town and agrarian roots can neglect those urban masses who felt similarly.
A Shared Ideology
Obviously all such comprehensive efforts at explanation are incomplete. This essay will repeatedly stress the complex variety of the noninterventionist leaders. What isolationists shared was neither a common region nor a common political party but a common stance, that is, a common posture towards the world. To explain this stance, and the varied reasonings behind it during World War II and Cold War debates, is the subject of this essay. We know that isolationism contains quite diverse elements, and that these attitudes could be shared by anarchists, mainline Republicans, Socialists, New Dealers, and progressives. Pacifists were another group allied to isolationists on many issues, and, in the crucial years 1939–1941, both Stalinists and Trotskyists were in their ranks.
This essay concentrates upon those isolationists who feared that international commitments would end the American economic system as they knew it. War, so they believed, would inevitably bring into its wake a prohibitive national debt, massive labor monopolies, conscription of manpower and wealth, runaway inflation, unworkable price and wage controls—in short, a militarized society and a corporatist state. Not only would free enterprise, as such isolationists defined it, be destroyed beyond repair. The social order itself would break down. As the renowned aviator Charles A. Lindbergh commented, “God knows what will happen here before we finish it [World War II]—race riots, revolution, destruction.”7 In many ways, this brand of isolationism embodied the mainstream of the movement, since it dominated the Congress, was articulated in leading newspapers, and possessed the greatest numerical strength. It should be noted, however, that individuals of a very different domestic vision also held to an anti-interventionist stance, and some of these people too—such as Socialist leader Norman Thomas—will be considered.
The first part of this essay is expository. It identifies certain leading anti-interventionists, presents material on their background, reveals the nature of their anxieties concerning war, and often shows their alternatives to foreign conflict. In short, I seek here to place the views of such isolationists in the context of their own time and thereby hope to reveal both their dreams and their fears. The second part of this essay is more problem-oriented, and it notes certain areas and topics that can aid the researcher.
Some Leading Figures
Robert A. Taft: Mr. Republican
Probably the most famous anti-interventionist, and a man whose name became synonymous with the movement, was Senator Robert A. Taft of Ohio (1889–1953). Thanks to a host of studies, including James T. Patterson's definitive Mr. Republican: A Biography of Robert A. Taft (1972), we can transcend old stereotypes.8 For a while, every historian, in a sense, possessed his own Taft, with Russell Kirk and James McClellan stressing the Ohio senator's opposition to communist expansion and Henry W. Berger emphasizing Taft's anti-imperialism.9 In all the newer works, however, Taft is no longer shown as the eternal curmudgeon, the Dagwood Bumstead of politics, or as one reporter quipped, the grapefruit with eyeglasses. He is portrayed as a man of extraordinary intelligence, quickness in debate, immediate recall of facts, and—for those who knew him best—genuine charm. Kirk and McClellan go so far as to claim that in a parliamentary system, Taft would undoubtedly have been prime minister.
To best understand Robert A. Taft one should look at the similarities to his father William Howard Taft, (1857–1930), a man who was both president of the United States (1909–1913) and chief justice of the United States (1921–1930). Both men attempted to curb trade union power, sought scientifically-designed tariffs, and backed the Sherman Antitrust Act. “The small businessman is the key to progress in the United States,” Robert wrote a friend in 1939.10 Criticizing eastern monopolists and Wall Street speculators, both found mere money-making contemptible. Both were party regulars, being ill at ease with insurgent movements. Both interpreted the Constitution strictly, seeing it as bestowing limited powers upon the government. Though they both sanctioned federal action to aid lower-income groups, this action was of a decidedly limited nature.
The two Tafts extended their trust in law to foreign policy, affirming that international law could resolve disputes among nations. Particularly needed was a world court and a clear definition of aggression; only judicial tribunals, not force or bargaining, could maintain a genuine international order. (For the most succinct statement of Robert A. Taft's domestic philosophy, see his debates of 1939 with congressman T.V. Smith.) 11
Taft and the Interwar Years
At first, Robert A. Taft hoped that his nation could stay out of World War I. When, however, Germany declared unrestricted submarine warfare, Taft approved the severing of diplomatic relations. He was appalled by the diplomatic intrigue he witnessed at the Versailles Conference, which he attended as a key member of Herbert Hoover's Supreme Economic Council. Later he blamed the Great Depression almost exclusively upon foreigners being unable to pay their war loans. During the intervention controversy that began in 1939, Taft stressed defense of the United States and the Caribbean and asserted that air power could deter any attack. Once peace was restored, so he claimed, that the United States could trade again with both Germany and Japan. And if the war cost America European markets, it could get them elsewhere. Besides, he added, with foreign trade only producing five per cent of the nation's income, it could well survive without it. Even during World War II, Taft claimed that military alliances led to world empire. He commented in 1943, “Our fingers will be in every pie.... Potential power over other nations, however benevolent its purpose, leads inevitably to imperialism.”12 Within a year after the atomic bomb was dropped on Japan, Taft critized that action.
Taft and Early Cold War Intervention
During the Cold War, Taft discerned that the Truman Doctrine (1947)—pleading armed support to “free peoples who are resisting attempted subjugation by armed minorities or by outside pressures”—was a particularly irrational form of anticommunism. In 1949 he found the formation of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization both provocative and self-defeating. When, in 1953, the first rumbling concerning intervention in Indochina began, Taft opposed any American involvement.
Taft wrote only one book, A Foreign Policy for Americans (1951), but it was one that summarized his views on the Cold War. Much of the text involved a weaving together of past speeches. On the one hand, the senator reiterated such familiar themes as the importance of containing Russia, the ideological nature of the Cold War, and the need to promote liberation movements behind the Iron Curtain. On the other hand, Taft stressed that the ultimate purpose of the nation's foreign policy was first to protect the liberty of Americans, and second to maintain the peace. The United States had no primary interest in improving conditions elsewhere. Nor did it have any in changing other forms of government. To impose any special kind of freedom upon peoples by war, he said, denies “those very democratic principles we want to advance.” Americans, he continued, “cannot send armies to block a Communist advance in every corner of the world.”13 Hence the country must weigh its priorities carefully. Extensive financial burdens, even if rooted in major defense commitments, could only break the nation's traditional fiscal and economic structure, doing so by destroying the ability of the individual American to produce. The United States could not continually be prepared for full-scale war without suffering dictatorship, runaway inflation (which Taft defined as ten per cent each year), and constant domestic turmoil. Rather than talk, as did publisher Henry R. Luce, in terms of an “American Century,” the United States should confine its activities to moral leadership, and in particular, manifest the values of liberty, law, and justice.
Patterson: A Balanced Biographer of Taft
Patterson's biography of Taft is no blanket eulogy. The author faults Taft for rabid anti-communism, endorsement of McCarthyism, and for his support both of Chiang Kai-shek's inept Formosan regime and of Douglas MacArthur's risky strategy in Korea. Furthermore, Taft underestimated German power in 1941, opposed the Marshall Plan, and adhered to an “air umbrella” over Europe. Yet what strikes the reader is how often Patterson shows his respect for the Ohio senator. Patterson indicates that Taft deserved a far better reputation from his peers, and from contemporary historians as well. Taft showed courage in continually taking unpopular stands: he challenged presidential warmaking power, opposed the wartime sedition trials (“a lonely voice for justice”), and recognized that the Nuremberg tribunal to try Nazi war criminals was “victor's justice.” In his claims that NATO was hardly a credible deterrent and that the Soviets posed no military threat in 1949, Taft showed genuine perception. Patterson even suggests that Taft's defense strategy in 1941 was not without wisdom. Once Hitler invaded Russia, England could well have survived without American intervention.
Herbert Hoover: Our Unknown Ex-president
If Robert A. Taft had any political mentor, it was undoubtedly Herbert Hoover (1874–1964). From the time that Taft served on Hoover's Food Administration in World War I, he was extremely close to the Great Engineer. Taft backed Hoover three times for the presidency and often drew upon his advice in fighting the New Deal. Taft stressed regional defense agreements, gave priority to underlying territorial and economic rivalries, and wanted any world organization to rest upon law, not force. In all these policies, Taft was advancing views originally fostered by Hoover.14
As far as Hoover himself goes, few presidents were in such disrepute among intellectuals, as the thirty-first president (1929–1933), and for few presidents has the rehabilitation been so slow. For several decades, many historians have written as they have voted. As a result, Hoover has been presented as a dour incompetent, a man so victimized by his rigid ideology that his effort to end the Great Depression could not even be called stopgap measures. Fortunately, we now have two works that cut through conventional stereotypes: Joan Hoff Wilson, Herbert Hoover: Forgotten Progressive (1975) and David Burner, Herbert Hoover: A Public Life (1979).15 Wilson's biography in particular offers strong praise. Indeed, she goes so far as to claim that “no other twentieth-century American statesman has had his range of interest and breadth of understanding of domestic and foreign economic problems.” Wilson finds Hoover wisely calling upon his nation to “abandon the role of self-appointed policeman for the world.” Hoover's policies, she writes, did not center on “unlimited suppression of revolution based on communist ideology, but rather on disarmament and peaceful coexistence.”16
In her rich account, Wilson offers many correctives to our traditional picture of insensitive and narrow leadership. She notes that Hoover opposed the Red Scare and military intervention in the Russian Civil War. As far back as 1919, Hoover predicted that American military intervention could not stabilize nations suffering from economic strain, much less protect them from communism. Hoover favored United States entry into the League of Nations, but he wanted some reservation on Article X of the League Covenant, an article that had appeared to guarantee the use of force to maintain the status quo. Emphasis, he said, should be on marshalling public opinion, then upon levying of moral and economic sanctions upon aggressor states. At no point should the United States take part in an armed alliance to preserve the rigid territorial boundaries established by the Versailles Treaty. As president, he remained aloof from the Machado regime in Cuba and backed the World Court, the Kellogg Pact, and various disarmament proposals. As Wilson continues her description of Hoover's anti-interventionism, she notes that as president, Hoover opposed challenging the Japanese occupation of Manchuria (1931), for he found few American interests at stake in that region.
Hoover: The Post-presidential Years
Wilson devotes much attention to Hoover's post-presidential foreign policy. Hoover saw little merit in the neutrality acts of the 1930s, finding them lacking a needed flexibility. He criticized diplomatic recognition of the Soviet Union, and after Russia invaded Finland late in 1939, he wanted the United States to withdraw its ambassador. America, he said late in 1938, should limit its aims to repelling aggression in its own hemisphere, and a year later he called for an international economic conference to restore global prosperity. In 1940, he headed the National Committee on Food for the Small Democracies, which advanced a plan to feed occupied Europe that was fought by the Roosevelt administration. He attacked any strident stance towards Japan, claiming that it was impregnable in China. Within several years, he was promoting Pearl Harbor revisionism, and he suggested witnesses and provided documents to the congressional investigating committee. After the war, Hoover made several relief trips at the request of President Truman, sought modification of the Marshall Plan, and called for the rehabilitation of Germany and Japan.17
Wilson is at her strongest when she relates Hoover's anti-interventionism to his domestic vision. She notes Hoover's dream of a decentralized corporatist society, one that involved an informal and delicate balance between labor, business, agriculture, and government. Such a society, the Quaker president believed, would lack oppressive concentrations of power, eliminate waste, and democratize capitalism. The chief, as his proteges called him, sought the same type of informal and cooperative economic relationship overseas, for he believed that no genuine world community could ever be created by force. Wilson warns against exaggerating the Quaker influence on Hoover's thought, and she stresses that Hoover was not a pacifist. Yet Hoover had a predisposition to peaceful settlement of all international disputes, as he maintained that military action usually created more problems than it solved. No genuine world community, either economic or military, could ever be created by force.
Burner: Hoover's Isolationism in Context
Four years after Wilson contributed her study, Burner's life was published. Less presentist in its approach, the book puts Hoover's isolationist reputation in a broader context. In 1912, Hoover wanted an Anglo-American alliance. By the time of the Lusitania incident of 1915, he despised Imperial Germany and found war inevitable. Had the United States not entered the conflict, Hoover said in 1919, German autocracy would have smothered Europe. He ardently believed that the League of Nations could remedy the wrongs of Europe, perhaps even more so than did Woodrow Wilson. At the Peace Conference, Hoover was so important that all Americans who sought to communicate with European leaders had to do so through him. Europeans too had to defer, and it was Hoover who forced pianist Ignace Paderewski upon Poland as premier.
In discussing Hoover's foreign policy, Burner challenges many myths. It is true that, at Versailles, Hoover used food as a political weapon, but it was utilized far more against Archduke Joseph of Hungary than against Bela Kun or V.I. Lenin. Hoover, in fact, sought to raise the food blockade on Russia, although like George F. Kennan a generation later, he believed that the Soviet Union contained the seeds of its own decay. In 1921, he directed Russian relief, and did so not to unload American surpluses, but out of a genuine sense of compassion. He opposed much dollar diplomacy and always hoped to limit United States exports to ten per cent of the Gross National Product.
If both Wilson and Burner present invaluable information, there is at times a lack of subtlety that hopefully George H. Nash, now writing a multivolume life of Hoover, will supply. Hoover, for example, informally backed the American First Committee, endorsed MacArthur's victory schemes in the Korean War, and pushed a highly dubious air-sea strategy during the Great Debate of 1950, facts that no biographer has brought out.
The Prolific Mr. Hoover
Hoover can best be understood through his own works. After leaving the presidency, Hoover wrote several books. In The Challenge to Liberty (1934), Hoover attacked the New Deal, finding it based upon the “old, very, very old, idea that the good of men arises from the direction of centralized executive power, whether it be exercised through bureaucracies, mild dictatorship or despotism, monarchies or autocracies.” Liberty, on the other hand, guaranteed that men “were not the pawns but the masters of the state.”18 His America's First Crusade (1942) criticized the Versailles conference, but The Ordeal of Woodrow Wilson (1958) defended much diplomacy of the former president, doing so to such a degree that Hoover showed himself to be a strong Wilsonian. The Problems of Lasting Peace (1942), written with diplomat Hugh Gibson, included his plans for a postwar world, plans that involved disarmament of all belligerents, a ban on military alliances, protection of oppressed minorities and small states, regional organization, and elimination of trade barriers. Given such goals, it is hardly surprising that Hoover was so critical of the Dumbarton Oaks plan for organizing the United Nations, and his critique was presented in his The Basis of Lasting Peace (1945). His memoirs, published in three volumes, looked at his career from the vantage point of the 1950s. They are inaccurate on significant aspects of his life and should be used with care.19
In addition to his books, post-presidential speeches and articles have been published under the title Addresses upon the American Road, and in some ways they are the best source of Hoover's thinking.20 In the volume for 1940–1941, for example, Hoover downplayed anxieties concerning the Axis economic threat. The United States, he said on June 29, 1941, was 93 percent self-sufficient. “And the cost of it,” he said, “would be less over twenty years than one year of war.”21 In another volume of his Addresses, Hoover warned against Cold War commitments. In 1952, he claimed that the continual diversion of civilian production to war materials created scarcity in civilian goods while expanding paper money. Eventually the wealth of the United States would be socialized: “we may be permitted to hold the paper title to property, while bureaucracy spends our income.”22
The Lindberghs: Victims of Stereotype
For many Americans, non-interventionism was symbolized less by Taft and Hoover than by Charles A. Lindbergh, Jr. (1902–1974). The only isolationist leader whose wide-ranging appeal could match that of President Roosevelt, Lindbergh entered the controversy in 1939, when he began opposing aid to the allies. He remained active until Pearl Harbor, at which point he withdrew from all political activity. There was no major anti-interventionist figure so controversial, for Lindbergh's enemies often branded him as pro-Nazi, anti-British, anti-Semitic, and an advocate of an immoral realpolitik.
His wife, Anne Morrow Lindbergh, also received abuse, with the argument given in her The Wave of the Future: A Confession of Faith (1940) misinterpreted as an apology for fascism.23 In this book, she stressed that the United States must face the new world of dictatorships not by promoting a destructive war, but by fostering domestic reform. Contrary to myth, she did not claim that the wave of the future was totalitarianism; rather it was a scientific, mechanized, and material era of civilization.
In 1948, in a small book entitled Of Flight and Life (1948), Charles expanded upon this theme.24 He called for a renunciation of scientific materialism and a return to “the forgotten virtues” of simplicity, humility, contemplation, and prayer. Lindbergh was critical of the newly formed United Nations, warning against sheer majoritarianism, particularly as he believed that leadership would pass to the great masses of Asia. No longer the strict isolationist of prewar days, he found the Soviet Union a greater menace than Nazi Germany. Indeed he saw behind the Iron Curtain an unprecedented oppression. Yet, although Lindbergh perceived the fate of Western civilization now lying on American shoulders, he called upon the nation to serve primarily as a model for others. If the United States succeeds, he continued, it would be less by forcing its system of democracy upon others than by setting an example others wished to follow, less by using arms than by avoiding their use, less by pointing out the mote in another's eye than by removing the beam in its own.
New Works on the Lindberghs
Only within the past decade do we have significant primary sources presenting Charles A. Lindbergh's own perspective.25 In addition, one leading historian, Wayne S. Cole, has written a masterful study, Charles A. Lindbergh and the Battle Against American Intervention in World War II (1974).26 Cole begins by noting that Lindbergh did not share the agrarian radicalism of his father, Charles Augustus Lindbergh (1859–1924), a populistminded Minnesota congressman vocal in his opposition to World War I. Nor did he possess the same hostility towards “the money trust” and in fact married the daughter of a Morgan partner, Dwight W. Morrow. Cole then moves quickly to Lindbergh's several trips to Germany, made in the later 1930s. At this time the aviator, then a colonel in the United States Air Corps Reserve, repeatedly compared German air strength to British and French weakness.
Although it has long been noted that Lindbergh feared any conflict that would result in the spread of communism, an anxiety that led him to endorse the Munich agreement, other facts have been far less publicized. Cole points out that Lindbergh made his trips to Germany at the request of the United States military attache in Berlin, Colonel Truman Smith, and that these trips greatly enhanced Washington's knowledge of Germany's war potential. Lindbergh genuinely disliked Nazi fanaticism and cancelled plans to spend a winter in Berlin so as not to appear to endorse persecution of the Jews. He urged the Western powers to accelerate military preparations and even promoted the French purchase of German airplane engines. Cole notes Lindbergh's acceptance of the Order of the German Eagle, bestowed upon him by Hermann Goering at a dinner arranged by the American ambassador Hugh R. Wilson. To have refused the award—says Cole—would have embarrassed Wilson, offended Goering, and worsened German-American relations at a time when closer ties seemed possible.
The biographer calls Lindbergh's willingness to speak out against American intervention an act of rare courage, particularly in light of the colonel's penchant for privacy. Administration efforts to purchase Lindbergh's silence with the post of secretary for air failed. Cole finds that despite the surprising effectiveness of Royal Air Force fighters in the Battle of Britain, Lindbergh's evaluation of German power possessed much validity. Hitler's attack on Russia might well have kept his more gloomy estimates concerning American casualties (one million men, the colonel estimated) from being fulfilled.
The last section of Cole's book notes Lindbergh's anxieties over impending war with Japan, the significance of his frequently attacked Des Moines speech, his continual fears of a Europe dominated by Russia, and his role as a civilian test pilot in the Pacific under combat conditions. At the end of his account, Cole raises a series of general issues concerning American intervention. As these questions range from the wisdom of the Versailles conference to that of lend-lease, one finds that—for Professor Cole at least—issues raised by Lindbergh still cannot be taken lightly.
Inside Mrs. Lindbergh's Diaries
In one volume of Anne Morrow Lindbergh's published diaries, The Flower and the Nettle (1976), Mrs. Lindbergh elaborates certain points made by Cole, among them the hope of Ambassador Hugh Wilson to rescue German Jews, her own constant fear of Soviet expansion, and her opposition to Nazi persecutions. Her diary entry for August 18, 1938 reads: “The Nuremberg Madonnas in Nuremberg look down on a lot of un-Christian things.”27 In War Within and Without (1980), she challenges the stereotypes associated with her phrase “the wave of the future.” Seeing how the term was misinterpreted, she wrote, “Will I have to bear this lie throughout life?” Far from being an Axis apologist, she called Hitler “that terrible scourage of humanity” and continually expressed horror over German atrocities. At one point, she said that she would rather have the United States enter the war than to see a wave of anti-Semitism sweep the nation.28
William E. Borah: Senatorial Powerhouse
If the rise of the Lindberghs to prominence in the anti-interventionist movement was meteoric and transient, the public career of Idaho5 Senator William E. Borah (1865–1940) lasted over thirty years. Now, four decades after Borah's death, few remember that in the 1920s, he was one of the most powerful of Americans. As chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee (1924–1933), he could exert more influence than the secretary of state. To liberals, he appeared living proof that the Republican party embodied more than the forces of vested privilege. To intellectuals, he appeared as a voice of conscience in a political world governed by expediency. He was also considered the most outstanding speaker the Congress possessed, being as adroit in argument as he was courteous in manner. No one in fact could get the ear of the nation better than he.
Conventional stereotypes feature Borah as a mindless obstructionist or “the great opposer.” Often quoted is Calvin Coolidge's expression of surprise, on seeing the senator horseback riding in Rock Creek Park, that Borah and the horse were going in the same direction. Yet we now have a series of studies that present a far more complex man, and a man whose foreign policy was in some ways ahead of his time. Claudius O. Johnson's Borah of Idaho (1936) tends to portray things from Borah's own standpoint, but is still valuable. Marian C. McKenna's Borah (1961) is stronger on his last ten years, although it needs to be supplemented by Robert James Maddox's William E. Borah and American Foreign Policy (1969).29 It is still, however, the favorable comments of the prominent revisionist historian William Appleman Williams that have done the most to create a more favorable reception.30
Borah began his career as a vigorous expansionist, and he backed American participation in the Spanish-American War, annexation of the Philippines, Theodore Roosevelt's foreign policy, a tough posture towards Mexico in 1915 and 1916, and entry into World War I. The First World War jarred him into challenging his imperialistic assumptions, and after it ended Borah was an “irreconcilable” who adamantly opposed American participation in the League of Nations. Borah called for the convening of the Washington naval conference of 1921–1922, but he did not expect to see it work. Once it assembled, he denounced it as a conspiracy to divide the spoils of China and entrench an aggressive Japan on the Asian mainland. He was a major supporter of the Kellogg-Briand Pact (1928), but at first only with reluctance and only when he was assured there would be no provisions for enforcement. He fought American entry into the World Court and collective security measures of the 1930s with the same passion that he exhibited in fighting banking and railroad “interests” in his native Idaho.
How to Understand Borah
To understand Borah, however, one must note his continual faith in international law. Borah's endorsement of Wilson's declaration of war was not rooted in any desire to “make the world safe for democracy,” but to protect American neutral rights. During World War I, he opposed conscription, the Espionage Act of 1917, and the raids of the Department of Justice. The League of Nations, he believed, would commit the United States to a status quo that was both unjust and impossible to preserve. The nation would be obligated to oppose colonial independence movements; in addition, it would have to impose peacetime conscription and build the largest navy in the world. (Personally Wilson bore him no animus and had favored his reelection in 1918; Borah too held Wilson in great esteem, seeing him as a misguided idealist). In the 1930s, under the influence of Yale law professor Edwin M. Borchard, Borah denounced the neutrality acts. Not only did they cravenly surrender America's neutral rights; the nation's sagging economy needed all the non-military trade it could get.
In a sense, Borah was far from being the isolationist of stereotype. McKenna writes, “The question with him was not withdrawal from world affairs, but when and where and how much to use the country's influence.”31 Borah did not think that the United States could remain isolated from the mainstream of world commerce. Nor did he think it would become self-sufficient economically or possess impregnable strength. The question never centered on complete detachment, but on his continual refusal to make any commitments that would compromise the nation's freedom of action. Little wonder that Borah favored easing the pressure on war debts and reparations, continually pushed for international economic conferences, sought independence for China, and opposed American action in such Latin American nations as Nicaragua. With Hiram Johnson, whom he wanted for president in 1920, he opposed America's Siberian intervention and was a leader in the movement to recognize the Soviet Union. One cannot, he always maintained, outlaw 140 million people and expect peace in Europe. Furthermore, Russia could supply a valuable market and check the growing power of Germany and Japan.
In the years before his death in 1940, Borah opposed Nazi persecution of the Jews, backed Roosevelt on the Ethiopian issue and the Quarantine speech, and accused the French of betraying the Czechs at Munich. Although always a critic of Japanese expansion, he feared war on Japan. Once the European war broke out, he opposed cash-and-carry. He suspected that once face-saving gestures were made with Poland, the allies would end what was basically an imperialist war by negotiating a peace with Hitler. His phrase, “the phony war,” was widely used.
In many ways, Borah was one of the “old progressives” so ably described in Otis L. Graham, Jr.'s book An Encore to Reform: The Old Progressives and the New Deal (1967).32 His domestic policies in some ways had quite a different thrust than either Hoover or Taft, though all were suspicious of Wall Street bankers. Borah favored free silver, prohibition, and oldage pensions. In 1937, a year after seeking the presidency, he wanted federal licensing of all interstate corporations. Accompanying requirements included profit sharing and the outlawing of child labor and wage discrimination against women. He found Franklin D. Roosevelt a genuine liberal and was undoubtedly more friendly to him than to any president since Theodore Roosevelt. He supported such New Deal measures as social security while opposing the corporatism he saw in the National Recovery Administration and the Agricultural Adjustment Act. Ever the defender of the Sherman Antitrust Act, Borah believed strongly in free market competition and widely-distributed private property. In fact, he was suspicious of all concentrations of power, be they political or economic. An anti-interventionist foreign policy, so he reasoned, would obviously protect these values. The greatest service America could perform in the world was to preserve its private property institutions in full vigor. Engagements overseas would only compromise the nation's mission.
Hiram Johnson: California Absolutist
Of all the leading anti-interventionists in the Congress, California Senator Hiram Johnson (1866–1945) was the most absolutist. Unfortunately, we have no published biography, and our material on him is limited to articles and doctoral theses.33 In 1912, during his term as governor of California, Johnson was Theodore Roosevelt's running mate on the Bull Moose party ticket. Elected to the Senate in 1917, Johnson supported American entry into World War I, but he was soon vocal in opposing violations of civil liberties and government censorship. The war, he maintained, destroyed the very reform sentiment he had helped to build. He saw the League as a new repressive Holy Alliance, and he pointed to America's Siberian military venture as exactly the kind of destructive commitment such League affiliation would foster. Although he had little sympathy for the Bolshevik Revolution, he found it the inevitable result of popular dissatisfaction. It could not, he claimed, be subdued by force of arms, for no status quo could be frozen forever. To Johnson, open diplomacy would free statesmen from the tentacles of J.P. Morgan and British imperialists, indeed, just as the initiative, referendum, and recall would end the hold of railroad interests on government at home.
During the twenties and thirties, Johnson opposed all American commitments, ranging from the Dawes Plan (1924) to the Washington conference that produced the Nine Power Pact. At the same time, he sought increased naval building, and he must have realized that only such armament could enforce the commercial rights that he insisted upon. He reached the height of his power with the Johnson Act of 1934, which prohibited private loans to all governments that were defaulting on their debts. President Roosevelt, whom he had backed in 1932, thought enough of him to offer him the post of secretary of the interior (Johnson declined), but after 1936 the two split over Supreme Court packing, sitdown strikes, and, above all, foreign policy. His opposition to American entry into World War II was rooted in bitter memories of the previous crusade: violations of civil liberties, abuse of executive power, prohibitive government spending, and a high toll in American lives. An isolationist until the day he died, Johnson opposed United States membership in the newly-formed United Nations.
Gerald P. Nye: Munitions Investigator
Probably the most publicized anti-interventionist of the 1930s was Senator Gerald P. Nye (1892–1971), the leader of the Senate munitions inquiry of 1934–1936, and a legislator far more willing than Johnson to forego America's commercial rights. Wayne S. Cole's biography places the North Dakota Republican senator (1925–1945) in the context of agrarian protest.34 Speaking for a region that included Chicago manufacturing as well as Oklahoma dirt farmers, Nye believed that urban financial and industrial powers were bleeding the agrarian sector in order to finance ruinous wars. Like many anti-interventionists of the 1930s, Nye had earlier supported President Wilson's domestic program, American entry into World War I, and the League of Nations. Strongly critical of big business, and Wall Street in particular, he fought with President Hoover and was often friendly to the New Deal.
However, by 1938, when he was at the height of his career, Nye was becoming more fearful of Franklin D. Roosevelt than he was of J.P. Morgan; the president, he suspected, was becoming too pro-labor, creating an artificial agricultural scarcity, seeking reciprocal trade agreements that involved foreign competition of American farm products, and—most important of all—desiring to cripple neutrality legislation in order to punish “aggressors.” With the relative decline of the family farm, Cole finds it surprising that Nye's populist brand of isolationism remained so strong during the thirties.
The Nye Committee, which during 1934–1936 investigated the role played by U.S. businessmen in America's entry into the First World War, has itself undergone some revisionism. John E. Wiltz's In Search of Peace: The Senate Munitions Inquiry, 1934–1936 (1963) finds far more to the committee than simplistic denunciations of Woodrow Wilson and the Du Ponts.35 The committee made a strong contribution in promoting honesty and efficiency in munitions control, thereby aiding the mobilization efforts of World War II.
Arthur H. Vandenberg: Party Leader
If the Senate Republicans had a leader in the late 1930s and early 1940s, it was Arthur H. Vandenberg of Michigan (1884–1951), who himself served on the Nye Committee. Vandenberg's later role in advancing bipartisan foreign policy should not belie his earlier strong opposition to American intervention. In fact, after Borah's death early in 1940, Vandenberg headed the Republican isolationists. His voting was more anti-interventionist than Taft, for Taft supported cash-and-carry in 1939. It was Vandenberg, not Taft, who was a strong presidential choice of Borah in 1936 and 1940, Hoover in 1936 and 1940, Nye in 1940, and John T. Flynn in 1940.36 True, Vandenberg had more than his share of pomposity, and a critic noted that he was the only senator who could strut sitting down. But he came across to admirers as a beloved and thoughtful figure, a “reasonable” man whose criticism of New Deal leadership was all the more effective because he was selective in his targets.
Fortunately we have two excellent books on the senator: C. David Tompkins, Senator Arthur H. Vandenberg: The Evolution of a Modern Republican, 1884–1945 (1970) and Arthur H. Vandenberg, Jr. and Joe Alex Morris, eds., The Private Papers of Senator Vandenberg (1952).37 As editor of the Grand Rapids Herald, Vandenberg had endorsed American possession of the Philippines, the Roosevelt Corollary to the Monroe Doctrine, and the Open Door policy. During World War I, he made eight hundred speeches for Liberty Loans while branding all isolationists and pacifists as traitors. Once the war was over, he insisted upon American entry into the League of Nations and endorsed Attorney General Palmer's “Red Scare” raids. Elected senator in 1928, he was one of the few in Congress who worked closely with President Hoover. Yet Vandenberg only turned against Franklin D. Roosevelt during the Second New Deal, when he saw the president abandoning his stress upon national recovery in order to move in the direction of overt relief measures to special interest groups. In particular, the Wagner Act, wages and hours laws, an increasing federal bureaucracy, deficit spending, and Roosevelt's battle against the Supreme Court aroused his ire.
Vandenberg: The Model of the Old Progressive
In a sense, Vandenberg is almost a classic example of the old-progressive-become-New Deal-critic, and he meets Otis L. Graham, Jr.'s model of a reform journalist and small city Republican progressive who sees Roosevelt creating a destructive broker state. As Tompkins notes, Vandenberg “firmly believed that America was an open society of unlimited opportunity in which each person had an equal chance for wealth and social status.” One cannot, Vandenberg said, “lift the lower one-third” up by pulling “the upper two-thirds down.”38
Vandenberg's service on the Nye Committee turned him into a strong isolationist. True, he dissented from the committee's recommendation that armament factories be nationalized. But he now claimed that entry into World War I had been such a tragic error that the United States should sacrifice all trade with belligerents. War, he said in 1939, would result in the complete regimentation of American life, the imposition of a dictatorship, ruinous deficit spending, and more radical domestic change. He opposed an anti-Japanese policy since the days of the Mukden incident, acting in the belief that no American interests in the Far East were worth a war. In proposing in July 1939 to abrogate the 1911 commercial treaty with Japan, Vandenberg was not seeking confrontation. Rather he wanted a new agreement based upon détente. A careful reading of Vandenberg's Private Papers (1952) reveals his continued critique of Roosevelt's pre-Pearl Harbor diplomacy with Japan, his endorsement of General Douglas MacArthur for president in 1944, and his efforts to preserve congressional war-making powers. In fact, one could well argue that as the United States entered the Cold War years, Vandenberg was no penitent isolationist at all. He remained an ardent nationalist who found himself suddenly involved in a world arena.
The La Follette Brothers: Idealism or Toughness?
If there was ever an apostolic succession between older and younger progressives, it was found in the sons of Senator Robert M. La Follette (1855–1925), one of the major opponents of American participation in World War I. As a Wisconsin senator (1906–1925), “Battling Bob” combined the idealism of an ardent reformer with the toughness of an old-time political boss. One son, Robert, Jr. (1895–1953), embodied the father's idealism, another son, Philip (1897–1965), the father's toughness. As Patrick J. Maney notes in his biography of “Young Bob,” the short, diffident, personable reformer entered the Senate in 1925 upon his father's death. Like “Old Bob,” Robert possessed a critical intelligence and a studious mind; unlike “Old Bob,” he avoided barbed polemics. A strong defender of Franklin D. Roosevelt, whom he endorsed for three terms, “Young Bob” could be more radical than the New Deal.
War, Robert believed, was caused by imperialism and power politics, and no peace that perpetuated an unjust status quo, or that violated principles of self-determination, could last. Maney stresses La Follette's bitterness concerning World War I—a “mad adventure,” La Follette called it. The man who saw his father burned in effigy on the University of Wisconsin campus predicted that if the United States ever again became involved in conflict, “tolerance will die. Hate will be mobilized by the Government itself. Neighbor will be set up to spy upon neighbor; bigotry will stalk the land; labor, industry, agriculture, and finance will be regimented, if not taken over, by the Central Government.”39 During the thirties, he backed the neutrality acts while calling for a war referendum and heavy taxation on war profits. In President Wilson's time, his father had stressed the evils of bankers and munitions makers; twenty years later, “Young Bob” maintained that it was the weakening of the reform impulse that was causing Roosevelt to intervene abroad.
Although we still need a biography of Wisconsin's Governor Philip La Follette, we do have some autobiographical fragments. Here Philip attempts to justify his short-lived third party movement, initiated in 1938, on the grounds that the New Deal was creating artificial scarcity: “The essential difference between the New and Fair deals and middle western progressivism was progressive determination to make America's great productive power available to all our people instead of killing pigs and plowing under cotton.” He noted that in 1917, his father had predicted “one of the worst economic collapses in history,” followed by another war. Yet, despite such occasional remarks, far more is needed on a most provocative career.40
Colonel Robert R. McCormick: Chicago Publisher
Colonel Robert R. McCormick (1880–1955) might have had little in common with the La Follettes, but he was one of the most colorful opponents of overseas alliances. As publisher of the Chicago Tribune, he built his newspaper into the most widely circulated standard sized paper of his day, a period that lasted from 1910 until his death in 1955. McCormick was in his prime during the 1930s. At the very time that the empire of William Randolph Hearst was in decline, McCormick was emerging as the largest practitioner of personal journalism.
Although long considered anti-British, the colonel physically resembled nothing so much as a tall, handsome British gentleman, an image which he enhanced by engaging in polo, shooting, and riding to hounds, and speaking with a slight English accent. In fact, McCormick was educated at a British preparatory school named Ludgrove, and then attended Groton and Yale. Assuming control of the Chicago Tribune in 1910, the Bull Mooser and Chicago alderman soon turned the editorial page into a forum for his personal crusades. He attacked the greater part of New Deal legislation, but made an exception for the Securities and Exchange Commission, which he saw as a vehicle to police a predatory Wall Street.
Among interventionists, McCormick met with much hostility and ridicule. Critics pointed to his impassioned invective, as when he called President Hoover “the greatest state socialist in the world” or compared Henry Wallace, Roosevelt's secretary of agriculture, to Lenin, Mussolini, and Hitler. They noted his claim that Rhodes scholars were little better than Benedict Arnold, his headline of 1948 (DEWEY DEFEATS TRUMAN), and his suggestion that the British Commonwealth nations join the American Union as additional states. When he boasted of being a great military strategist (“You do not know it, but the fact is that I introduced the R.O.T.C. into the schools; that I introduced machine guns into the army; that I introduced mechanization; that I introduced automatic rifles; that I...), a pundit replied that on the seventh day he undoubtedly rested.41 Supporters of the Roosevelt administration accused McCormick of betraying national security, first by publishing a secret army mobilization plan four days before Pearl Harbor and second by divulging the news of the Battle of Midway, and hence revealing that the United States had cracked the Japanese code. He faced severe government harassment, with threats being made to close down his paper and with Tribune phones being tapped.
McCormick: Efforts at Fairness
Only recently have we a fairer picture, and this because of a fresh series of biographies and memoirs.42 In several ways, they modify the older and more negative portraits.43 First, they note that—far from being a journalistic simpleton—McCormick was an extremely able newspaperman. He possessed a fine staff of foreign correspondents, pioneered in photography and color, offered superb sports and comic strips, and realized the potential of radio and television. Second, these authors note that the colonel's isolationism bore no pro-fascist taint. The Tribune pointed with alarm to the rise of Hitler, with correspondent Sigrid Schultz in particular giving accounts of Nazi persecution. Similarly Tribune correspondents attacked Mussolini's invasion of Ethiopia, sided with the Spanish Loyalists, and opposed Japan's conduct in China. The reporting did little to modify McCormick's own anti-interventionism, for the Chicago colonel saw some justice in many of Hitler demands and opposed all aid to the British in 1940. However, as Joseph Gies notes, McCormick gave so much space to the rise of the dictators that “no Tribune reader could fail to be concerned about fascist aggression.”44
Third, there is far more to McCormick's foreign policy than mere aloofness. In 1916 he warned—admittedly using foolish logic—of a German invasion. He fought bravely in World War I, and in fact feared that he might have ended up a little too much in love with war. He was offered a commission as brigadier general just before leaving the army. Never harboring pacifist leanings, McCormick long supported extraterritorial rights in China, conscription, and a strong navy, only switching his position when he believed that Roosevelt was leading the nation into a destructive war. To avoid war with Japan, he desired American withdrawal from the Philippines and Guam and termination of China privileges. He defended United States intervention in any Latin American nation that, in his eyes, was incapable of self-rule. Indeed, as Jerome E. Edwards notes, the colonel sought “an active foreign policy from the Arctic Ocean to Tierra Del Fuego.”45 Though usually a critic of New Deal diplomacy, McCormick did not object to either Roosevelt's occupation of Iceland or the destroyer-bases deal.
McCormick's stance was rooted in a fear of state power. As Frank C. Waldrop writes, “The kings did go. The state power did pass through the hands of shoemakers' apprentices, as the great wind shook the world. But in the end, the state, as such, was still there and stronger than ever. The guard had changed its uniform but not its assignment, a fact which grew to be the frustration of McCormick's life.” Hence the same man who opposed prohibition said that the president had no right to involve the United States in the Korean War. “Only Congress can do that,” asserted the Tribune, “and Congress has not been consulted.”46
John T. Flynn: A Prolific Critic
One of the authors most lauded by McCormick's Tribune was John T. Flynn (1882–1964), and, among the anti-interventionists, probably no one contributed more books and articles than he. Flynn had become well-known among intellectuals in the 1920s and 1930s for his attacks on Wall Street manipulation, and he contributed a weekly column, “Other People's Money,” to the New Republic. He backed Roosevelt in 1932 and helped staff Judge Ferdinand Pecora's investigation of high finance. He soon broke with the New Deal, claiming that such depression agencies as the National Recovery Administration (NRA) were simply way stations on the road to fascism. Flynn's economic thought and suspicion of business monopolies were rooted in the doctrines of Louis D. Brandeis, the major architect of Woodrow Wilson's economic doctrine of the New Freedom and a believer in “pure” competition.
Thanks to the research of several historians—Richard C. Frey, Jr., Michele Flynn Stenehjem, and Ronald Radosh—we now have a good understanding of Flynn's isolationism, a position that grew out of his general economic perspective.47 As one of a three-man advisory council to the Nye Committee, Flynn proposed severe and rigorous limitations on war profits. In 1939, Flynn suspected that Roosevelt would attempt to bolster the nation's impoverished economy by seeking martial adventures abroad, and in 1940 he headed the New York chapter of the America First Committee. In this capacity, he took a more militant posture than the national organization, opposing draft extension and blaming the president for the breakdown of relations with Japan.
Flynn's thought in the 1930s can best be found in his columns for the New Republic and the Scripps-Howard press. In addition, he wrote a good many books, some of which were widely circulated. Country Squire in the White House, timed for the 1940 presidential race, accused Franklin D. Roosevelt of becoming “the recognized leader of the war party” in order to “take the minds of our people off the failure to solve our own problems”—problems that included some eleven million unemployed, a mounting public debt, and the paralysis of private investment.48
As We Go Marching: Flynn Defines American Fascism
In 1944, Flynn wrote As We Go Marching, in which he claimed that national socialism already existed in the United States. What fascists really seek, he said, was to preserve a degenerate form of capitalism and to alleviate unemployment by turning to deficit spending. At first collaborating with businessmen, the fascists soon dominate them, with this domination becoming increasingly pronounced as the nation became more militaristic and imperialistic. Flynn wrote, “When you can put your finger on the men or the groups that urge for America the debt-supported state, the autarchical corporative state, the state bent on the socialization of investment and the bureaucratic government of industry and society, the establishment of the institution of militarism as the great glamorous public-works project of the nation and the institution of imperialism under which it proposes to regulate and rule the world and, along with this, proposes to alter the forms of our government to approach as closely as possible the unrestrained, absolute government—then you have located the authentic fascist.”49 One scholar, Richard J. Frey, Jr., finds Flynn's book “a thoughtful, forceful, well-written book,” and the Socialist weekly New Leader considered it significant enough to have several contributors debate its contents.50
In the last twenty years of his life, Flynn portrayed Congress as the one major restraint upon presidential power, offered an impassioned critique of the Roosevelt presidency, and warned against a socialistic America.51 He also claimed that American bungling and a pro-Soviet State Department had created Communist domination of China and the Korean War.52 In his effort to find individual villains, Flynn often neglected the wider economic analyses that he had given earlier in his career.
Felix Morley: The Scholar as Anti-Interventionist
A different vantage point came from Felix Morley, undisputed elder statesman of the classic form of American liberalism, or what Morley himself refers to as “libertarianism.” A man of rich experience, Morley has been a correspondent for the Baltimore Sun, director of the Geneva office of the League of Nations Association, staff member of the Brookings Institution (which awarded him an earned doctorate), and chief editorial writer of the Washington Post, in which capacity he earned a Pulitzer Prize. During World War II, he was president of Haverford College, and after the war, he helped found Human Events, was radio commentator for Three Star Extra, and wrote voluminously for Barron's and Nation's Business.
In Morley's autobiography For The Record (1979), he notes that in 1939 he was a moderate interventionist. During that year, Roosevelt himself praised Morley's editorial pledging the United States to halt fascist aggression. Morley goes so far as to say that Roosevelt, when sending personal messages to Hitler and Mussolini, was acting in part on his editorial. Yet America's participation in a European war, Morley believed, would lead to confiscation of property, brutalize the populace, centralize power, and thereby alter “the structure of a federal republic constitutionally dedicated to the dispersion, division and localization of power.” He saw “more than a chance that such pressures would undermine the basic institutions of the United States, no matter who won or lost on fields of battle.”53
Morley as Cold War Skeptic
Even during the Cold War, Morley has remained suspicious of foreign involvement. “National security,” Morley notes with regret, “was defined in terms that meant the loss of individual freedom.” The strains of total war, he argues, would make the survival of capitalism difficult. Preparing for nuclear conflict with Russia “is close to madness,” while the Vietnam conflict was simply the most recent evidence that communism thrives on war. In Morley's eyes, the Republicans favor almost unrestrained military expenditures and have swung towards imperialism; the Democrats “demand that every sort of social need be sponsored, liberally financed and supervised from Washington.”54 Either way, the nation loses its federalist moorings, becoming a centralized and socialized power.
Morley's books remain the best guide to his views on foreign policy and constitutional government. In his massive volume The Society of Nations (1932), Morley drew upon his own experiences at Geneva first to describe how the League of Nations evolved, then to evaluate its strengths and weaknesses. His pamphlet “Humanity Tries Again” (1946) finds the United Nations Charter falling short of the League Covenant. Like his close friends Hoover and Taft, Morley's plan of world organization centered on regional groups linked together by a common council and secretariat. Japan would remain an Asian leader, while a Western European federation could, he hoped, offset Russian and American power. Hoover endorsed Morley's proposals, claiming that decentralization would lessen the need for military alliances and therefore “greatly relieve American anxiety lest we be constantly involved in secondary problems all over the earth.”55
In the Cold War years, Morley continued his writing. The Power in the People (1949) and Freedom and Federalism (1953) offered his interpretation of the American political tradition. Here he stressed the principles of federalism, decentralized power, states rights, constitutionalism, and antimajoritarianism. His series of lectures delivered at Wesleyan University, entitled The Foreign Policy of the United States (1951), showed his allegiance to the Monroe Doctrine and the Open Door policy, both of which he found betrayed by Roosevelt and Truman.56
Edwin M. Borchard: Advocate of Traditional Neutrality
Much of the anti-interventionist position stemmed from a belief in traditional concepts of international law, and here the most vocal figure of the 1930s was Edwin M. Borchard (1884–1951), professor at Yale University Law School from 1917 to 1950. A disciple of John Bassett Moore, Borchard considered international law a science. He maintained that before World War I, carefully defined international legislation protected nations from purposeless involvement, permitted commercial prosperity, limited the scope of the fighting, and allowed for neutral mediation. After the war, however, efforts to freeze the status quo and check “aggressors” only insured endless conflict for all. Borchard claimed that the League had degenerated into an armed alliance, while the Kellogg Pact really involved hearty support of war. Rigid Western opposition to Japan in Manchuria, Italy in Ethiopia, and Germany on the European continent was comparable to sitting on a safety valve.
Despite his own belief in world jurisprudence, however, Borchard often warned against over-reliance upon international courts and law. Nations, he said, would never submit questions of vital interest to any international authority. The underlying roots of national interest were economic, not legal. Industrial nations fought in order to sustain a prosperity based upon foreign markets, raw materials, and investment of surplus capital. To resolve such conflicts, Borchard in 1930 suggested tariff reduction, international coordination of the world's raw materials, regulation of competition, and organs of “conciliation and appeasement” empowered to remove grievances.
In 1937, he wrote, with the aid of attorney William Potter Lage, a noninterventionist manifesto, Neutrality for the United States (rev. ed., 1940).57 Here Borchard combined traditional arguments with accusations that President Wilson and his secretary of state, Robert Lansing, made war inevitable, doing so by refusing to press for neutral rights. A supporter of the America First Committee, Borchard continued to oppose United States diplomacy during World War II and the Cold War. He found the United Nations an instrument for great power domination, the Nuremberg trials and the Potsdam agreement acts of vengeance, and the Truman Doctrine a commitment to unlimited intervention.58
John Bassett Moore and Philip Jessup:
A Bridge Spanning Generations
Borchard's intellectual mentor was no longer in his prime when World War II came. Indeed, John Bassett Moore (1860–1947) had long retired from the World Court, where he had served as the first American judge (1921–1928), and from the faculty of Columbia University (1891–1924). Yet, until his death in 1947, Moore strongly opposed the expansion of executive prerogatives and fought what he considered capricious alterations of American neutrality. Never considering himself a genuine isolationist, Moore urged United States participation in a variety of world legal, economic, and cultural organizations. He was, however, as critical of international moralism as he was of imperialism, and he thought that such traditional devices as international association, arbitration, and conciliation could best serve humanity.59
One of Moore's collegues on the Columbia faculty was Philip C. Jessup, and Moore, the senior scholar, exerted an occasional influence on the junior one. Although Jessup is most widely known for his diplomatic work with the United Nations, he was long a strong proponent of traditional international law. In 1939, he defended the arms embargo, declaring that its repeal both violated international law and would lead to war. With Francis Deak, Jessup was coauthor of the first volume of Neutrality: Its History, Economics and Law (1935), entitled The Origins. He also wrote the fourth volume, Today and Tomorrow (1936). In both books, he presented the fundamentals upon which international law and duties had been based. Furthermore, he stressed the factors, particularly economic ones, that contributed to its development.60
Joseph P. Kennedy: The Founding Father
The background of businessmen is usually quite different than that of international lawyers, and few businessmen were as prominent as Joseph P. Kennedy (1888–1969). We now have several biographies of the senior Kennedy (1888–1969), including those by Richard J. Whalen, David E. Koskoff, and most recently Michael R. Beschloss.61 Whalen's book is the most sympathetic, Koskoff's the most hostile. Beschloss has the advantage of drawing upon Kennedy's still unopened papers at the John F. Kennedy Library in Boston as well as upon a diplomatic manuscript that Kennedy never published. Kennedy was one of the world's wealthiest men, almost a legendary figure. He made his millions in banking, liquor, films—and Wall Street speculation—and in the process served, in the words of one magazine writer, to be “at once the hero of a Frank Merriwell captain-of-the-nine adventure, a Horatio Alger success story, an E. Phillips Oppenheim tale of intrigue, and a John Dos Passos disillusioning report on the search for the big money.” A major contributor to Roosevelt's campaigns, he was appointed chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission (“Set a thief to catch a thief,” Roosevelt said), then ambassador to Great Britain.62
As ambassador he supported Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain's overtures to Germany, and, from September 1, 1939, to Pearl Harbor day on December 7, 1941, he opposed American entry into the war. The conflict, he believed, would so ruin the centers of world capitalism that communism was bound to spread. Even in England and the United States, the steps necessary for mobilization would necessitate a socialized dictatorship. Kennedy found the Nazi regime reprehensible, but he did not see it as involving basic threats to the social and economic order.
Kennedy was equally opposed to Cold War involvements. In December 1950, he called upon his nation to withdraw from “the freezing hills of Korea” and “the battlescarred plains of Western Germany.” “What business is it of ours,” he asked, “to support the French colonial policy in Indo-China or to achieve Mr. Syngman Rhee's concepts of democracy in Korea?”63 Rather than attempt to hold frontiers on the Elbe, the Rhine, or Berlin, the United States, he declared, should build up its own hemispheric defenses.
General Robert E. Wood and America's Economic Mission
A man somewhat lesser known, but probably held by businessmen in greater respect, was General Robert E. Wood (1879–1969). In an essay written in 1978, I note that Wood—from the time that he earned his bars at West Point—was a strong nationalist. He could boast of a military career that included the Philippine insurrection (1900–1902), the building of the Panama Canal (1905–1915), and the famous Rainbow Division of World War I. Wood, however, fought United States entry into the Second World War, and while chairman of the America First Committee, he argued that intervention would ruin the nation's capitalist economic system.64 As board chairman of Sears Roebuck and a director of the United Fruit Company, he claimed that “Our true mission is in North and South America. We stand today in an unrivaled position. With our resources and organizing ability we can develop...a virgin continent like South America. The reorganization and proper development of Mexico alone would afford an outlet for our capital and energies for some time to come.” The products of the tropical belt of Latin America complemented the manufactured goods of the United States. Mexican metals, Venezuelan oil, Brazilian coffee, and Central American bananas were sure to find plenty of buyers in the North. Even in confronting the products of the temperate zone—Brazil's cotton, for example, or Argentina's meat—the United States could set up export cartels and get its “full share of the trade.”65
Oswald Garrison Villard: Pacifist at War
No coverage of anti-interventionism is complete without reference to prominent pacifists who opposed American involvements, and in this tradition Oswald Garrison Villard (1872–1949) played a particularly significant role. Thanks to his own autobiography and to a series of biographers, we have able treatments of his career.66 From 1897 to 1918, Villard was editorial director of the New York Evening Post, a paper that boasted, with much justice, that its readership was composed of “gentlemen and scholars.” Then in 1918, he became editor of the Nation, and in this capacity he transferred a sedate literary review into a leading political weekly, one that combined crusading tone with the best in English prose. He dropped the editorship in 1933, but remained as publisher for two more years and kept a biweekly column until 1940. Until his death in 1949, he wrote frequently for the Progressive and the Christian Century.
Biographer Michael Wreszin calls Villard “the liberal's liberal,” and the phrase is most accurate. Grandson of abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison, the Harvard-educated Brahmin Villard was nurtured on the doctrines of Richard Cobden and John Bright, and he found in Grover Cleveland one president whose integrity, so he believed, matched his own. Villard embraced a variety of reform causes—Negro rights, women's suffrage, low tariffs, and clean government. To Villard, government existed to protect private property and preserve law and order, thereby permitting individuals to pursue their own self-interest in the market place. He said in 1919, “Free trade, no government ownership of ships or railroads, no Socialism, no special privilege, these seem to me the basis for a pretty sound economic policy.”67 By the time of the Great Depression, he had abandoned his faith in laissez faire. Villard called for nationalization of basic industries as well as for welfare measures. He found the New Deal lacking the “comprehensive far reaching program” he desired, but he really split with Roosevelt over court-packing and foreign policy.
Villard and the Wilsonian Tradition
A pacifist above all, Villard fought against American entry into the war with Spain as well as the two wars with Germany. War itself, he believed as a military affairs commentator, was caused by tariff barriers and spheres of influence; it would invariably destroy the liberalism for which he had long fought. To Villard, the annexation of Puerto Rico and undisclosed Pacific islands betrayed the nation's heritage of self-determination. He greatly admired the European diplomacy of Woodrow Wilson until the president endorsed the preparedness crusade, at which point Villard's ready access to the White House was cut off. When war came, Villard's opposition was so adamant that a journalist jocularly reported that the government was preparing a special concentration camp just for him.
By the end of World War I, congressional committees accused Villard of Bolshevism and treason, in part because of his pleas for civil liberties, in part because of his publication of secret allied treaties. In 1918 the Nation's mailing privileges were temporarily revoked due to Albert Jay Nock's critique of the wartime activities of the American Federation of Labor. In a sense, Villard was more Wilsonian than Woodrow Wilson himself, since he called for total and immediate disarmament, free trade, self-determination, and an international court and parliament. He endorsed such radical regimes as Kurt Eisner's in Bavaria and long believed that if there were no foreign military intervention, Bolshevik Russia would evolve from a society of chaos and violence to one of orderly and democratic socialism. Villard saw the Versailles Treaty as a palpable fraud upon the world and opposed it bitterly. He opened the Nation's pages to historical revisionism, saw the outlawry of war as an alternative to the League, and pressed support for the Weimar Republic. Once Hitler assumed power, there were few prominent Americans who gave so many warnings, but his pacifism remained strong. In fact, even his insistance upon domestic reform took second place to his desire to curb presidential power in foreign affairs. After World War II, Villard backed the Open Door policy of State Department official Will Clayton and, in a book entitled Free Trade, Free World (1947), wrote that “to free the world we must first free trade.”68 Ever the maverick, he voted Prohibitionist in 1908 and 1916, Democrat in 1912 and 1928, Progressive in 1924, and Socialist in 1920, 1932, and 1936.
Norman Thomas: The Last Idealist
Of all the prominent Americans of the twentieth century, it was Norman Thomas (1884–1968) who received Villard's greatest admiration. Thomas is the subject of several biographies, the most comprehensive being W.A. Swanberg's Norman Thomas: The Last Idealist (1976).69 Thomas began life as a Presbyterian minister. Pastorates in Italian and Jewish Harlem made him a Socialist, while World War I turned him into a pacifist. Even, however, when he joined the Socialist party in 1918, he confessed “a profound fear of the undue exhaltation of the State,” voiced opposition to “any sort of coercion whatever,” and said that a party's only justification lay in “winning liberty for men and women.”70
Although a candidate for many public offices, including the presidency, Thomas's major work lay in reform. He was never a doctrinaire Marxist, for he rejected both economic determinism and dialectical materialism. Rather he stressed his belief in egalitarianism, doing so in such a way that, as one Socialist quipped, “any Rotarian can understand him.” In a sense, Thomas was an oldtime progressive, downplaying immediate nationalization of basic resources in an effort to tap the support of middle class liberals.
Thomas: From Pearl Harbor to Vietnam
Thomas was always a strong anti-interventionist, and in 1938 he helped organize the Keep America Out of War Congress. Realizing that this group was impoverished, in 1941 he gladly cooperated with the far wealthier America First Committee. Thomas opposed the internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II; he was furious when the American Civil Liberties Union refused to fight vigorously on their behalf. He favored feeding children living under German occupation, fought anti-Japanese propaganda in the media, found “obliteration” bombing utterly unnecessary, leaned towards the belief that Roosevelt had deliberately goaded the Japanese into attacking Pearl Harbor, and was outraged by the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
In his later years, Thomas became increasingly anti-Soviet, and favored the Marshall Plan, Atlantic Pact, and American participation in the Korean War. He criticized, however, the Truman Doctrine, fearing that “American intervention in Turkey [will] become more and more imperialistic, more and more tied to the politics of petroleum.” When Walter Reuther, president of the United Auto Workers, endorsed the Vietnam conflict, Thomas wrote him, “President Johnson and perhaps the Chamber of Commerce must be glad to know that they can always trust labor when it comes time to policing the world with bombs.”71
Other Biographical Projects: Work Done and Work Needed
Given its brevity, this bibliographical essay cannot do justice to the wide and rich range of anti-interventionist spokesmen. On the libertarian right, we have several studies of critic Albert Jay Nock (1870–1945)72 and journalist H.L. Mencken (1880–1956).73 Although we have autobiographies of economist Frank Chodorov (1887–1966)74 and essayist Francis Neilson,75 we need full-scale studies of both.
There is much material on various figures of the collectivist and authoritarian right. Corporatist elitist Lawrence Dennis continues to facinate students, though here again we need a full biography.76 We have thorough studies of two isolationists associated respectively with pro-German and pro-Italian views-George Sylvester Viereck77 and Ezra Pound.78
One should not neglect a whole host of liberals who opposed intervention. During World War II, some of the most biting essays came from Dwight Macdonald,79 anarchist editor of Politics (monthly 1944–1947, quarterly 1947–1949), and from Milton Mayer,80 a pacifist who had a weekly column in the Progressive. While we have plenty of material on Norman Thomas, we still miss studies of other Socialist isolationists.81 Far more work needs to be done on pacifist leaders.82 The same holds true for prominent clergy who took a strong antiwar position.83 The galaxy of intellectuals is surprising to those not familiar with the range of opposition to war.84 Prominent revisionist historians —Charles A. Beard (1874–1948),85 Harry Elmer Barnes (1889–1968),86 Charles Callan Tansill (1896–1964)87 among them—have also found their biographers.
The world of the press is mixed. We have material on such noninterventionist correspondents and editors as Garet Garrett,88 William Henry Chamberlin,89 and Freda Utley.90 Despite W.A. Swanberg's breezy account, there is as yet no serious study of William Randolph Hearst.91 The same holds true for Captain Joseph Patterson and Eleanor Medill (“Cissy”) Patterson, cousins of Colonel McCormick and allied to the Chicago Tribune newspaper empire.92 Publishers Roy W. Howard and Frank Gannett still await their biographer.93 Noninterventionist radio broadcasters Boake Carter and Fulton Lewis, Jr. are just now coming under scholarly scrutiny.94 In George T. Eggleston's autobiography, the former editor-in-chief of Scribner's Commentator gives his side of the controversial isolationist digest and his prosecution by the Roosevelt administration.95 With the memoirs of Henry Regnery, we have a first-hand account of one revisionist publishing effort, but more extensive history is needed.96
Work on the Congress is uneven. We have memoirs of such crucial figures as Burton K. Wheeler (1882–1975)97 and Joe Martin, Jr.,98 but these are surprisingly thin. We also have scholarly treatments of Kenneth Wherry99 and Arthur Capper.100 Jeannette Rankin (1880–1973), the Montana pacifist and congresswoman who voted against American entry into both world wars, is the subject of several studies.101 Much of our material, however, remains in the form of doctoral theses and sketches in the Dictionary of American Biography.102 Similarly, it is only a prominent governor or party leader whose thought is treated to date in any depth.103
We do have some biographies devoted to isolationist business and labor leaders, but not nearly enough. Figures such as Henry Ford104 and John L. Lewis105 are the subjects of a host of books, but such businessmen as Robert Young of the Chesapeake and Ohio Railroad and Ernest Weir of National Steel are usually neglected, at least so far as their anti-interventionism is concerned. There is some work on military figures sympathetic to isolationism, but this aspect of their thinking is usually ignored.106 Of the various farm spokesmen, only George N. Peek is covered.107
It is hardly surprising to see a host of biographies of John Foster Dulles (1888–1959), with the one by Michael Guhin dealing the most with his isolationism of the 1930s.108 No study, however, reveals the subtlety that comes through first-hand examination of the Dulles Papers at Princeton. Dulles's first major book, War, Peace and Change (1939), argued for recognizing the needs of “have-not” nations. No provision against war would work, Dulles maintained, that did not permit alteration of the status quo.109 Studies are needed of such anti-interventionist diplomats as William R. Castle, J. Reuben Clark, and John Cudahy as well as such international law experts as Charles Cheney Hyde.110
There is also work done on domestic demagogues. Father Charles E. Coughlin (1891–1979), the populist Michigan radio priest, is the subject of many studies.111 Now we also have material on such nativists of the right as Gerald L.K. Smith, Gerald Winrod, and William Dudley Pelley.112
Topics for Examination
If bibliography is a relatively painless way of examining such a phenomena as anti-intervention, it is far from sufficient. Certain elements are best treated topically. Thanks to a series of bibliographical essays, we now have guides to these various aspects of antiwar activity.113 In addition, there are bibliographical essays on wider issues concerning United States entry into World War II.114
The first comprehensive scholarly treatment of anti-interventionism was Selig Adler, The Isolationist Impulse: Its Twentieth-Century Reaction (1957). While strongly hostile to the movement, Adler supplies some particularly helpful material on the 1920s.115 Several works show how foes of World War I advanced arguments that would be used by their successors down to Pearl Harbor.116 By reading Ralph Stone, The Irreconcilables: The Fight Against the League of Nations (1970), one learns that certain senators made perceptive comments concerning ambiguities, inconsistencies, and structural weaknesses of the League's organization.117 As far as individual opponents of Wilson's League is concerned, one should note two fresh studies: William C. Widenor's biography of Henry Cabot Lodge (1850–1924) portrays the Massachusetts Brahmin as an international “realist,” motivated by considerations that ran far deeper than hatred of Wilson and intense partisanship; David P. Thelin's life of Robert M. La Follette, Sr. (1855–1925), links insurgency in domestic and foreign policy.118
The most able published work on the anti-interventionists in the years immediately before Pearl Harbor remains Manfred Jonas, Isolationism in America, 1935–1941 (1966). Jonas makes a careful distinction between the more aggressive isolationists, who called for full neutral rights, and those willing to forego such traditional privileges. He further points out that many congressional isolationists sympathized with the Ethiopians in 1935, the Spanish Loyalists in 1936, the Chinese in 1937, and the British in 1940.119
Isolationist behavior in Congress is the subject of several studies.120 Robert A. Divine has thoroughly traced the neutrality acts, and Warren I. Cohen has explored the historical revisionism that explains much of the popular sentiment behind this legislation.121 Several studies have been made on the war referendum movement and the fight against the World Court.122 Only preliminary work has been done on anti-interventionist efforts to seek a negotiated peace in the years 1939–1941.123 No student can neglect the host of contemporary books that challenged American intervention, including those by Charles A. Beard, Norman Thomas, and Stuart Chase.124
There have been studies of the major anti-interventionist organizations that have participated in the debate of 1939–1941, including the America First Committee, the Keep America Out of War Congress, and the No Foreign War Committee.125 A postwar anti-interventionist group, the Foundation of Foreign Affairs, has also received brief treatment.126 Specialized work on German activities in the United States now frees us from wartime polemics, with research finding the influence of the German-American Bund greatly overrated.127
Thoroughgoing treatment of administration attempts to intimidate isolationists is much needed. Important material is found in Wayne S. Cole's work on America First and Lindbergh. In Richard Polenberg's War and Society: The United States, 1941–1945 (1972), the author notes that the administration was always prepared to curb the freedom of speech of right-wingers. Similarly, Richard W. Steele finds continued attempts to silence or discredit the president's critics.128
Still needed is work on anti-interventionist perceptions of the great powers. Before Pearl Harbor, a good many anti-British books were published.129 Similarly, France—before and after the Popular Front—came in for some criticism.130 British journalist Freda Utley combined her anti-interventionism concerning Europe with a hatred of Russia and hostility towards Japan.131 Only a few anti-interventionists wrote on Germany per se.132 Secondary works can be found on American public opinion and such topics as Mussolini's Italy,133 Hitler's Germany,134 Stalin's Russia,135 the Spanish Civil War,136 the Manchurian crisis,137 and debates among liberals of the 1930s.138 A start has been made on university and college opinion, but far more needs to be done.139 War propaganda is another topic needing study.140 American pacifism is being covered systematically.141 Roman Catholicism constitutes the subject of several able works142 as does Protestantism.143
The Early Cold War Era
Much work has been done on Cold War anti-interventionism. In my book Not to the Swift: The Old Isolationists in the Cold War Era (1979), I find the isolationists leaving an ambivalent legacy, but not one without wisdom or insight.144 If many of them opposed economic and military aid to Europe on the narrow grounds of a balanced budget and “anti-socialism,” they wisely cautioned against overcommitment. If they propounded a conspiratorial form of revisionism, they levied needed and occasionally thoughtful challenges to “official” history. If their proposals could weaken presidential action in an emergency, they often betrayed a healthy distrust of executive power and administration rhetoric. If their political base, lying in rural and small-town areas, might be isolating them from the dominant American culture, it is doubtful whether they could have been more ignorant of social change than those “best and brightest” who led the country into the Vietnam War. And if some of them stubbornly believe in a pastoral Eden forever lost to reality, they could—at least until 1950—claim that they opposed extending this Eden by force.
Some studies concentrate upon congressional opponents of intervention.145 Others focus upon the Korean War146 and efforts to secure the presidency of General Douglas MacArthur.147 The attempts of Senator John W. Bricker to limit the treaty-making power of the executive is the topic of several works.148 George H. Nash, in his learned and thorough examination of the conservative movement, shows how such libertarians as Murray N. Rothbard, Felix Morley, and Leonard Read opposed Cold War involvement.149 As in the case of the thirties, there is material on pacifism.150
We Testify: Anti-Interventionism Anthologized
It is not enough to note the extensive research concerning anti-interventionism. To understand salient military and economic perspectives, raised in their most acute form from 1939 to 1941, one must turn to the primary literature. The greatest variety of arguments can best be seen in the anthology We Testify (1941), edited by Nancy Schoonmaker and Doris Fielding Reid.151 In the pages of this anthology, Herbert Hoover warned against postwar bankruptcy and unemployment, columnist Hugh S. Johnson denied that Britain was fighting America's war, and Frances Gunther (a journalist like her husband John) pleaded the cause of independence for India. In addition, helicopter manufacturer Igor Sigorsky opposed the expansion of Soviet power, reformers Norman Thomas and Oswald Garrison Villard saw imperialism implicit in Roosevelt's policies, and Robert Maynard Hutchins, president of the University of Chicago, warned that only a world-wide American empire could guarantee Roosevelt's Four Freedoms.
Several contributors to We Testify are of special significance. Charles A. Lindbergh claimed that Germany could not conquer North America. Most of the Atlantic was too wide to permit air transport of troops; Greenland and Alaska were too cold and fog-ridden to serve as invasion routes; Africa and South America contained too many logistical problems, not to mention problems of supply. Montana's Senator Burton K. Wheeler (1882–1975), in 1941 the leader of the Senate anti-interventionists, concurred. Even if Hitler seized the British fleet, he could not invade the United States, for his forces lacked the technical skill and would be easy prey to American submarines. To General Robert E. Wood, Hitler sought German expansion in Europe, not world conquest. If the Roosevelt administration, said Wood, sought to maximize its influence in the world, it should not freeze French money needed for food purchases, nor oppose the Hoover food plan for occupied Europe, nor dictate Japan's conduct in Asia, nor freeze the funds of Finland. John T. Flynn opposed military Keynesianism, warning that if the nation continued to paralyze the domestic economy, it would end up blundering into war and suppressing individual liberty. Senator Robert A. Taft saw the sending of American troops to Iceland as a usurpation of presidential power; the president, Taft remarked, had no legal, moral, or constitutional right to begin war without the authority of Congress.
Air Power: The Isolationist Shield
Also needing investigation are aspects of isolationist military policy. Until Pearl Harbor, few anti-interventionists saw the need for a mass army. A new Allied Expeditionary Force—they claimed—would simply prolong the struggle overseas, work against needed negotiation between Germany and Britain, and ensure Russian domination of Europe. Isolationists usually stressed small, highly-trained, and mechanized forces as well as fighter planes and sometimes a two-ocean navy. True, they used the fall of France as an argument for a crash defense program, but for them genuine defense involved the strengthening of hemisphere deterrents, not the “dissipating” of armaments by sending them overseas.
For some anti-interventionists, a strong air force was the crucial factor. In Major Al Williams's book Air Power (1940), the air columnist of the Scripps-Howard newspapers said that “The nation that rules by air will rule the world.”152 Williams was not alone, for the doctrine of victory through air power was often used by those favoring unilateral action in foreign policy. When General Bonner Fellers, an intelligence specialist close to conservative Republicans, wrote his Wings for Peace (1953), he was merely updating the message of air supremacy.153
A Hemispheric Strategy
In 1941, Fleming MacLiesh and Cushman Reynolds contributed Strategy for the Americas.154 Here a political commentator collaborated with the editor of the anti-interventionist newsletter Uncensored to argue that a hemisphere containing 300 million people could defend itself against all likely invaders. As far as raw materials went, the United States was the most secure of nations, so secure that it could even survive if it were cut off from Canada and Mexico. Raw materials obtained from Southeast Asia, such as rubber and tin, could be produced respectively in Brazil and Bolivia. Defense of the entire hemisphere, so the authors claimed, was neither militarily practicable nor necessary; rather effective control of strategic points was all that was needed. In this connection, the authors mention Pernambuco in Brazil, Nova Scotia, Bermuda, various Caribbean islands, British Guinea, Alaska, Hawaii, and the Galapagos islands. The nation's primary weapons, a fleet and air force, could repulse any invasion, as no enemy could seize control of the seas, establish bases in the hemisphere, and supply these bases with overseas transport. Nor could it send a large expeditionary force across the seas without opening itself to devastating attack.
Hanson W. Baldwin: A Detailed Schema
Hanson W. Baldwin, military columnist for the New York Times, offered a more detailed picture. In his United We Stand!: Defense of the Western Hemisphere (1941), Baldwin denied that the nation was threatened by direct invasion or massive bombing raids.155 Supply problems alone would be insuperable. United States domination of hemispheric bases ranging from Labrador to the shoulder of Brazil could turn any German landing into a slaughter far worse than Gallipoli. Even if Germany, Russia, Italy, and Japan were all massed against the United States, it could survive, since the western hemisphere still possessed enough combat planes, greater steel production, and an adequate defense fleet. Baldwin opposed mass armies, drawing upon Hoffman Nickerson's The Armed Horde, 1793–1939 (1940), in support of his argument that tanks and planes made huge conscript armies obsolete.156
Baldwin denied that American prosperity depended upon Asian markets, though he claimed that “we would be cutting off our nose to spite our face were we to interrupt our trade with Japan, our best Oriental customer, by going to war with Japan in order to preserve our trade in the Orient.” The United States could probably win a war with Japan, but it would be “a long, hard, grueling war of attrition,” leaving a “trail of blood across the Pacific.”157 Invasion of Japan would require a million men. At the same time that he feared war, however, Baldwin called for strengthening the American garrison in the Philippines, Guam, and Samoa; withdrawal of American marines from Shanghai, Tientsin, and Peking; a slow increase in the China trade; and a gradual restricting of vital raw materials from the Japan trade.
Carleton Beals: Looking Southward
Latin America, too, was discussed, with one expert, Carleton Beals (1893–1979), was quick to warn against incipient imperialism. In his book Pan America (1940), he asserted that an effective hemispheric policy needed far more than denunciation of international aggression and defense of an exploitative status quo. Beals recommended such policies as inter-American control of the Panama Canal, preparation for political independence or statehood for Puerto Rico, plebiscites for the people of the Virgin Islands, and cancellation of British and French debts whenever those countries set their New World populations free. In addition, he wanted return of the Falkland Islands to Argentina and of British Honduras to Guatemala and Mexico. There should, Beals went on, be no change in the economic or political status quo of the New World without joint Pan-American agreement. While continually calling for hemispheric self-sufficiency, he warned that Latin American nations could no longer be seen as “our oyster to be devoured, or as shock troops for our safety, or as pawns in the game of world power.”158
Wheat and Steel, With Wall Street Bypassed
In an essay published in 1976, I note how several anti-interventionists spoke in terms of economic independence.159 The American interior, so such people believed, contained such an abundance of resources that the country could avoid European commitments. An economic axis of agriculture and industry—the linking, so to speak, of Duluth grain elevators and Pittsburgh steel mills—would insure national self-sufficiency. The Chicago Tribune spoke for many midwestern businesses when it said in 1929, “The other sections of the country, and particularly the eastern seaboard, can prosper only as we prosper. We, and we alone, are central to the life of the nation.”160
The research division of the America First Committee drew upon a Brookings Institution study to advance the claim that a Nazi-occupied Europe would be extremely vulnerable to United States pressure.161 The ravaged continent, it said, would need so much food that Germany simply would be unable to exclude American trade. Europe's exports, on the other hand, were not indispensable to the American economy. Given this inequality, bargaining power would naturally lie with the western hemisphere.
Hugh Johnson and John Chamberlain:
An End to Gin and Beads
Various anti-interventionists wrote books outlining their plans for economic survival. General Hugh Johnson (1892–1942), director of conscription during World War I and former NRA administrator, offered Hell Bent for War (1941), in which he found little danger from nations with lower living standards. Even if threatened by cartel and barter agreements, the United States possessed an unmatched industrial plant, raw materials, and a gold supply. Those Latin Americans who traded with Hitler's Reich would soon possess an over-abundance of aspirin, bicycles, and cameras. “Ignorant nations,” the Scripps-Howard columnist went on, “will no longer trade tusks of ivory and wedges of gold for calico, squarefaced gin and strings of beads.”162
The prominent editor and critic John Chamberlain claimed that the United States was the only great power that unquestionably could survive alone. To Chamberlain, in 1940 an editor of Fortune, the United States was still in a seller's market, being the only country that could specify its own commercial conditions without having to fight for them. Even if Japan dominated the East Indies, it would have to sell in Akron or Pittsburgh or face depression. And if the current war ended in high tariffs, autarchy, and bilateral barter throughout the world, the United States could lend Europe sufficient gold to enable that continent to reorganize on lines of free commerce. As Chamberlain noted in The American Stakes (1940), “We do not need to fight and demobilize our own economy in order to put our weight behind sound moves toward a Manchesterian world.”163
Graeme Howard: Spheres of Influence
In 1940, Graeme Howard (1896–1962), vice president in charge of overseas operations for General Motors, wrote a commercial manifesto entitled America and a New World Order.164 Here Howard declared, “The slowing up of market growth has a great deal to do with growing tensions between nations. Empty bellies and idle machines are certain to cause unrest. When exports and imports cannot cross manmade barriers, man will be tempted to cross political frontiers with guns, tanks, and airplanes.” To solve this problem, while still meeting the survival needs of the “have-not” nations, Howard proposed the division of the world into recognizable economic blocs. Such spheres might include continental Europe, the British Empire, the Soviet Union, Latin America, North America, and Japan's “new order” for Asia. Cooperative regionalism, he maintained, could substitute mutual interdependence for international economic chaos, revolution, and war. True, the United States would find keen competition from other great powers, all of whom had to export or die. However, it could still sell cotton, lard, tobacco, and wheat surpluses, as well as make loans for productive projects. In addition, it could mediate the world's conflicts, thereby keeping such nations as Germany, Japan, Italy, Russia, and Spain out of the “international doghouse.”
For Fear of M-Day
A host of contemporary books dealt with the economic consequences of war. Rose M. Stein, M-Day: The First Day of War (1936), described the War Department plans for Mobilization Day. Using the findings of the Nye Committee, she claimed that a future war would offer the opportunity for military leaders and industrialists to impose authoritarian controls upon all phases of the nation's life. Larry Nixon's anthology, When War Comes: What Will Happen and What to Do (1939), predicted gas attacks on civilians, conscription of labor, and war dictatorship. Harold J. Tobin and Percy Bidwell wrote Mobilizing Civilian America (1940), in which they offered a documented blueprint of economic and military dictatorship. The nation, so the authors claimed, should seek ever to preserve the maximum amount of private industry and profit. Despite its White Paper format, Leo M. Cherne's M-Day and What It Means (1940) offered a popularized account, although not using fictionalized incidents as did Don Keyhoe, M-Day—What Your Government Plans for You (1940).165
Even today, many Americans have an impression of the anti-interventionists as an unsavory lot. In part, this attitude is rooted in sympathy for the victims of totalitarianism. In part, it stems from the belief that opponents of intervention were narrow and shortsighted, unaware that the world had become increasingly interdependent. Yet when we examine the rich variety of personalities advocating nonintervention, and when we note the wide range of research dealing with this topic, we are far less apt to make simplistic and patronizing comments. The anti-interventionist responses are simply too varied, the individuals too diffuse, and their motives too complex.
The debates concerning World War II and the early Cold War have seldom been equalled in intensity. The reason is obvious: they centered on nothing less than the survival of the United States amid a changing international system. To the interventionists, this survival depended upon Europe, perhaps a world, cleared as much as possible of totalitarian rule. To the isolationists, the nation could best survive by looking towards its own ramparts. Either option was unenviable. Now, thanks to a galaxy of historians, one can see that the debate was far from one-sided, and that many opponents of American globalism did not flinch from asking hard questions concerning their country's fate.
Here one point should be stressed above all. Certain anti-interventionists, such as Edwin M. Borchard and Felix Morley, were not simply reacting in ad hoc fashion to immediate crises. Nor were they only advocating a Fortress America. They were presenting a competing world vision, in many ways more Wilsonian than those who claimed to inherit President Wilson's mantle. If such anti-interventionists as William E. Borah opposed any existing association of nations, it was in part because they believed that force, separated from abstract principles of international law and self-determination of nations, merely institutionalized chaotic and destructive power politics. To such people, Woodrow Wilson himself had compromised his principles beyond repair when he sought to tie America's destiny to a League Covenant that embodied an inherently unstable peace. Franklin D. Roosevelt's wartime vision of Four Policemen, so some of Borah's successors believed, only assured that the strong would continue to tyrannize the weak.
Of course, anti-interventionism possessed many diverse strains, ranging from individualist anarchism to democratic socialism. Obviously, on a variety of matters, there was little consensus: economic protectionism, the most desirable defense policy, relations with revolutionary regimes, involvement in Latin America, economic and strategic holdings overseas, the nature and degree of state intervention in the economy, and, at times, the very vision of the good society.
There was, however, one thing that anti-interventionists had in common: the belief that lengthy foreign conflicts would only weaken a nation, limiting the freedom and opportunities of Americans in ways that they thought crucial. In short, real dangers were internal, centering on the nature of the American republic as they had understood and experienced it. These dangers, so such figures as Herbert Hoover stressed, included the militarization of the nation's productive facilities and the linkage of American security to overseas commitments.
Hoover's story in particular shows a problem faced by anti-interventionists during the debates over World War II and the early Cold War. Unlike many opponents of intervention, Hoover usually had access to the American media. After World War II he seldom met with the type of personal abuse faced even by such a moderate anti-interventionist as Robert A. Taft. If Hoover did not dominate the Republican party, he was a respected figure within it.
Yet Hoover, as close as any anti-interventionist to the nation's policy and opinion elite, found himself, like all the rest, losing one battle after another. Interventionism was entrenched in one major political party, the Democrats, and was extremely strong among Republicans. It had far greater influence in the media and among intellectuals than its opponents. It possessed powerful geographical bases in eastern industrial states and, until the 1950s, the South.166 Wall Street finance had long tended to be interventionist. By 1941, much of organized labor had joined interventionist ranks, and by 1948 large manufacturing associations were enlisted in such causes as the Marshall Plan. Interventionist action groups, which played such a crucial role in the debates of 1939–1941, were better organized and in the field longer than their isolationist counterparts.
The presidents assumed more and more direct control of foreign policy, partially by fiat, partially by manipulating the framework of debates. In his speeches and legislation, Roosevelt never presented an issue of war-or-peace, and hence he was able to maneuver most skillfully. If President Truman did not always possess Roosevelt's finesse, he commanded congressional support for much of his foreign policy. Even when he ordered troops into Korea without the approval of Congress, he received relatively little criticism.
To turn again to Hoover, his struggle is a most telling one. Much of the press held Hoover personally, and his wing of the party as well, responsible for the Great Depression. In the 1940s, Taft and his followers suffered badly from a negative Republican party image projected by political foes many years earlier. In addition, Hoover and Taft showed that they possessed their own brand of interventionism, centering on Asia during the years 1949–1951. They therefore exposed them-selves to charges of inconsistency, and to a dangerous one at that. When such old isolationists harped on domestic subversion, as they did early in the Cold War, they merely side-tracked fundamental debate over the direction of American foreign policy. Then, to a nation undergoing a wide range of crises—Turkey and Greece in 1947, Berlin in 1948, Korea in 1950, Hungary and Suez in 1956—Hoover's long-range predictions that communism bore within it the seeds of its own decay offered little immediate comfort.
In some ways, the anti-interventionism of the future will take a quite different form. The traditional geographical bases of isolationism, rooted especially in small town rural areas of the Middle West and the Great Plains, have long since vanished. The weapons revolution, manifested in nuclear arms and intercontinental missiles, have made obsolete the argument based on continental security. There will undoubtedly be less suspicion of international organization and of such Western powers as Great Britain and France. One must be careful however, not to dismiss traditional anti-interventionism, as inherited, so quickly. Until nation states lose their essential sovereignty, the question that the old anti-interventionists raised concerning the possibilities of American autonomy, the dangers of overseas alliances, and the impact of war and massive defense spending upon individual freedom will remain with us.
Full citations for works listed in the Footnotes may be found in the following Bibliography. After footnote 58, Dictionary of American Biography is abbreviated as DAB.
The abbeviation DAB stands for Dictionary of American Biography
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——. “The War Guilt Question and American Disillusionment, 1918–1928.” Journal of Modern History 23 (1958): 1–28.
Alsfeld, Richard Walter. “American Opinion of National Socialism, 1933–1939.” Ph.D. thesis; Brown University, 1970.
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Ameringer, Oscar. If You Don't Weaken. New York: Henry Holt, 1940.
Atwell, Mary K. “Congressional Opponents of Early Cold War Legislation.” Ph.D. thesis; St. Louis University, 1974.
Backstrom, Charles H. “The Progressive Party of Wisconsin, 1934–1946.” Ph.D. thesis; University of Wisconsin, 1956.
Baldwin, Hanson W. United We Stand!: Defense of the Western Hemisphere. New York: Whittlesey House, 1941.
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Beard, Charles A. A Foreign Policy for Americans. New York: Knopf, 1940.
——. Giddy Minds and Foreign Quarrels: An Estimate of American Foreign Policy. New York: Macmillan, 1939.
——. The Idea of National Interest. New York: Macmillan, 1934.
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——. In Hitler's Shadow: The Anatomy of American Nazism. Port Washington, N.Y.: Kennikat, 1973.
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——. “Usher L. Burdick.” DAB, Supp. VI, pp. 85–87.
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——. “The Study of an Isolationist: Hiram Johnson.” Ph.D. thesis; University of California at Los Angeles, 1970.
Briggs, Philip J. “Senator Vandenberg, Bipartisanship and the Origins of United Nations' Article 51.” Mid-America 60 (April 1978): 163–169.
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Bryniarski, Joan Lee. “Against the Tide: Senate Opposition to the Internationalist Foreign Policy of Presidents Franklin D. Roosevelt and Harry S. Truman, 1943–1949.” Ph.D. thesis; University of Maryland, 1972.
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Butler, Smedley D. War is a Racket. New York: Round Table, 1935.
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Cannistraro, Philip V. and Kovaleff, Theodore P. “Father Coughlin and Mussolini: Impossible Allies.” Journal of Church and State 13 (Autumn 1971): 445–464.
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——. Hearst and the New Deal—The Progressive as Reactionary. New York: Garland, 1981.
——. “William Randolph Hearst: A Fascist Reputation Reconsidered.” Journalism Quarterly 50 (Spring 1973).
Carter, Boake. Why Meddle in Europe? New York: Dodge, 1937.
Carter, Boake and Healy, Thomas H. Why Meddle in the Orient? New York: Dodge, 1937.
Carter, Paul A. The Decline and Revival of the Social Gospel: Social and Political Liberalism in American Protestant Churches, 1920–1940. Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 1956.
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——. For Peace and Justice: Pacifism in America, 1914–1941. Nashville: University of Tennessee Press, 1971.
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——. Fugitive Essays: Collected Writings of Frank Chodorov, ed. by Charles H. Hamilton. Indianapolis: Liberty Press, 1980.
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——. “America First in the South.” Journal of Southern History 22 (1956): 36–42.
——. “American Entry into World War II: A Historiographical Appraisal.” Mississippi Valley Historical Review 43 (1957):595–617.
——. Charles A. Lindbergh and the Battle Against American Intervention in World War II. New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovitch, 1974.
——. “Henrik Shipstead.” DAB, Supp. VI, pp. 577–579.
——. Senator Gerald P. Nye and American Foreign Relations. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1962.
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Dawson, Nelson L. “Martin L. Sweeney.” DAB, Supp. VI, pp. 613–614.
Dawson, Raymond H. The Decision to Aid Russia, 1941: Foreign Policy and Domestic Politics. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1959.
DeConde, Alexander. “The South and Isolationism.” Journal of Southern History 24 (1958):332–346.
DeJohn, Samuel. “Robert A. Taft, Economic Conservatism, and Opposition to United States Foreign Policy, 1944–1951”. Ph.D. thesis; University of Southern California, 1976.
Dennis, Lawrence. The Coming American Fascism. New York: Harper, 1936.
——. The Dynamics of War and Revolution. New York: Weekly Foreign Letter, 1940.
——. Operational Thinking for Survival. Colorado Springs, Colo.: Ralph Myles, 1969.
——. and St. George, Maximilian. A Trial on Trial: The Great Sedition Trial of 1944. Chicago: National Civil Rights Committee, 1946.
Dewitt, Howard A. “Hiram Johnson and American Foreign Policy.” Ph.D. thesis; University of Arizona, 1972.
—— “Hiram Johnson and Early New Deal Diplomacy, 1933–1934.” California State Historical Quarterly 53 (Winter 1974):377–386.
——. “The ‘New’ Harding and American Foreign Policy: Warren G. Harding, Hiram W. Johnson, and Pragmatic Diplomacy.” Ohio History 86 (Spring 1977):96–114.
Diamond, Sander A. The Nazi Movement in the United States, 1924–1941. Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 1974.
Diggins, John P. “Flirtation with Fascism: American Pragmatic Liberals and Mussolini's Italy.” American Historical Review 71 (1966):487–506.
——. “John Dewey in Peace and War.” American Scholar 50 (Spring 1981):213–230.
——. Mussolini and America: Hero Worship, Charisma, and the ‘Vulgar Talent.’” The Historian 28 (1966):559–585.
——. Mussolini and Fascism: The View from America. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press,1972.
Dilliard, Irving. “Joseph Pulitzer, Jr.” DAB, Supp. III, pp. 551–552.
——. “Oscar Ameringer.” DAB, Supp. III, pp. 9–11
——. “Paul Hutchinson.” DAB, Supp. VI, pp. 315–316.
Divine, Robert A. The Illusion of Neutrality. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1962.
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——. “American Public Opinion and the Manchurian Crisis, 1931–1933.” Ph.D. thesis; Princeton University, 1966.
——. “Beyond Polemics: An Historiographical Re-Appraisal of American Entry into World War II.” History Teacher 12 (February 1979):217–251.
——. “Conservatism: The Impassioned Sentiment—A Review Essay.” American Quarterly 23 (Spring 1977):601–609.
——. “Edwin M. Borchard.” DAB, Supp. V, pp. 81–82.
——. “General Robert E. Wood: The Evolution of a Conservative.” Journal of the Illinois State Historical Society 71 (August 1978):162–175.
——. “Germany in Isolationist Ideology, 1939–1941.” In Germany and America: Essays on Problems of International Relations and Immigration, edited by Hans L. Trefousse. New York: Brooklyn College, 1981, pp. 215–216.
——. “Harold Knutson.” DAB, Supp. IV, pp. 396–397.
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——. “Isolationism of the 1930's and 1940's: An Historiographical Essay.” in American Diplomatic History: Issues and Methods, edited by R. Sellin and T. Bryson. Carrollton, Ga.: West Georgia College Studies in the Social Sciences, 1974, pp. 5–40.
——. “The Isolationist as Collectivist: Lawrence Dennis and the Coming of World War II.” Journal of Libertarian Studies 3 (Summer 1979):191–208.
——. “The Isolationists and a Usable Past: A Review Essay.” Peace and Change 5 (Spring 1978): 67–73.
——. “Lawrence Dennis: Revisionist of the Cold War.” Wisconsin Magazine of History 55 (Summer 1972):275–286.
——. “The Literature of Isolationism: A Guide to Non-Interventionist Scholarship, 1930–1972 Colorado Springs, Colo.: Ralph Myles, 1972.
——. “The Literature of Isolationism, 1972–1980: A Bibliographical Guide.” Paper submitted to Historians Project, World Without War Council, December 12, 1980.
——. “A New Look at the Lone Eagle.” Historical Aviation Album 14 (September 1975):279–281.
——. “Non-Interventionism of the Left: The Keep America Out of War Congress, 1938–1941.” Journal of Contemporary History 12 (April 1977):221–236.
——. Not to the Swift: The Old Isolationists in the Cold War Era. Lewisburg, Pa.: Bucknell University Press, 1979.
——. “Power, Markets, and Ideology: The Isolationist Response to Roosevelt Policy, 1940–1941.” In Watershed of Empire: Essays on New Deal Foreign Policy, edited by Leonard P. Liggio and James J. Martin. Colorado Springs, Colo.: Ralph Myles, 1976, pp.132–161.
——. “The Strange Career of American Isolationism.” Peace and Change 3 (Summer-Fall 1975):79–83.
——. “Towards an Isolationist Brainstrust: The Establishment of the Foundation for Foreign Affairs.” forthcoming in World Affairs.
——. “Verne Marshall's Leadership of the No Foreign War Committee, 1940.” Annals of Iowa 41 (Winter 1973):1153–1172.
Dreier, John A. “The Politics of Isolationism: A Quantitative Study of Congressional Foreign Policy Voting.” Ph.D. thesis; University of Kentucky, 1977.
Dubovsky, Melvin and Van Tine, Warren. John L. Lewis: A Biography. New York: Quadrangle, 1977.
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——. Country Squire in the White House. New York: Doubleday Doran, 1940.
——. The Decline of the American Republic. New York: Devin-Adair, 1955.
——. The Lattimore Story. New York: Devin-Adair, 1953.
——. Meet Your Congress. Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday Doran, 1944.
——. The Road Ahead: America's Creeping Revolution. New York: Devin-Adair, 1949.
——. The Roosevelt Myth. New York: Devin-Adair, 1948.
——. While You Slept: Our Tragedy in Asia and Who Made It. New York: Devin-Adair, 1951
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Harris, Ted Carleton. “Jeanette Rankin: Suffragist, First Woman Elected to Congress, and Pacifist.” Ph.D. thesis; University of Georgia, 1972.
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——. Peace Agitator: The Story of A.J. Muste. New York: Macmillan, 1963.
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Hoover, Herbert. Addresses on the American Road: 1933–1936. New York: Scribners, 1936.
——. Ibid.: 1938–1940. New York: Scribners, 1940.
——. Ibid.: 1940–1941. New York: Scribners, 1941.
——. Ibid.: 1941–1945. New York: Van Nostrand, 1945.
——. Ibid.: 1945–1948. New York: Van Nostrand, 1948.
——. Ibid.: 1948–1950. Stanford, Ca.: Stanford University Press, 1950.
——. Ibid.: 1950–1955. Stanford, Ca.: Stanford University Press, 1955.
——. Ibid.: 1955–1960. Caldwell, Idaho: Caxton, 1960.
——. America's First Crusade. New York: Scribners, 1942.
——. The Basis of Lasting Peace. New York: Van Nostrand, 1945.
——. The Challenge to Liberty. New York: Scribners, 1934.
——. Memoirs. 3 vols.; New York: Macmillan, 1951–1952.
——. The Ordeal of Woodrow Wilson. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1958.
Hoover, Herbert and Gibson, Hugh. The Problems of Lasting Peace. New York: Doubleday Doran, 1942.
Howard, Graeme. America and a New World Order. New York: Scribners, 1940.
Howe, Quincy. Blood is Cheaper Than Water: The Prudent American's Guide to Peace and War. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1939.
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Freedom, Choice, and Social Stability
The following set of summaries present a diversity of viewpoints recommending the virtues of pluralism, freedom, and individual choice as indispensable values for achieving the good society. Some thinkers, including Locke and the America Antifederalists, were passionate advocates in the political arena urging the rights of individuals against “lawless” governments which conducted themselves as antisocial “beasts of prey.”
Other thinkers treated in this section—Adam Smith, Isaiah Berlin and Paul Feyerabend—likewise stress the need of a humane tolerance for a plurality of competing values and traditions. Both Berlin's “moral pluralism” and Feyerabend's “pluralist methodology” defend individual freedom, while rejecting dogmatic absolutism and intolerance as antagonistic to the liberal and open society.
Against these individualistic emphases, it is instructive to contrast Kinser's analysis of the Fernand Braudel's vaster historical “structures” that operate beyond the “circumstantial individual.” Finally, the theme of individual choice and diversity is picked up again, this time in the field of education, in E.G. West's controversial endorsement of educational vouchers as a device to break up the government monopoly on education and thus promote greater individual choice and pluralism.
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Locke as a Revolutionary
- University of California, Los Angeles
“Revolutionary Politics and Locke's Two Treatises of Government: Radicalism and Lockean Political Theory.” Political Theory 8 (November 1980): 429–486.
Was John Locke (1632–1704) a political philosopher or revolutionary (and pamphleteer)? Richard Ashcraft answers that Locke was a revolutionary and gives as evidence an interpretation of The Second Treatise of Government.To understand why Locke wrote his Second Treatise, it is necessary to know when he wrote it. According to Laslett, the project commenced sometime in 1679–80, during the early stages of the Exclusionary Crisis (the effort to prevent James from succeeding Charles to the throne of England). If Laslett is right, then Ashcraft is wrong; for at this point, the opposition (led by Locke's patron Lord Shaftesbury) hoped to achieve their ends by orderly, constitutional means (via passage of the Exclusionary Act in Parliament). It was not until March, 1681, after Charles dissolved the Oxford Parliament, that the opposition set a revolutionary course directed, not just against the Catholic James, but against the “lawless” King Charles.
Could Locke have begun the Second Treatise before 1681? No says Ashcraft, since during this period: (1) he was continually traveling or otherwise occupied with a work on the growth of vines and olives; and (2) he did not then possess key works cited in the Treatise.
Granted that Locke began his project only after the opposition decided upon a radical course, this alone does not link the man or the work to the revolutionary movement. Other arguments are needed—and provided. Thus Ashcraft seeks to establish a double-barreled guilt-by-association.
First, there is Locke's association with the plotters themselves: his sixteen-year stint as Shaftesbury's “assistant pen” (the two collaborated on The Fundamental Constitutions of Carolina and other celebrated causes, including toleration); his well-documented dealings with other celebrated rebels of the realm; his personally summoning the Earl of Essex to a meeting of the revolutionary cabal late in April, 1683; and his hasty departure for Holland (once the plot was discovered), where he took up residence at Dare House, home of many other “visiting exiles.” If he “really wished to convey to the outside world that he was politically innocent,” Ashcraft concludes, “then, in selecting his numerous ‘disaffected’ friends, Locke appears to have had the poorest judgement of any man who ever lived.”
On a deeper level—the level of ideas—Ashcraft argues that Locke's Treatise shares a common “language” of rebellion with innumerable other tracts of the period. The radical writers spoke with a single voice of “lawless” governments, “the invasion of rights,” “dissolved compacts” and of monarchs turning themselves into “wolves,” “lions” and sundry other “beasts” of prey. Moreover, the Lockean inquiry into the “Original, Extent and End of Civil Government” is virtually indistinguishable from the “philosophical” formulations self-consciously employed by the intellectuals of the revolutionary movement such as Algernon Sidney, Robert Ferguson, etc.
No detached philosopher, curiously unaware of the revolutionary implications of his theoretical researches, Ashcraft's Locke is implicated in conspiracy. And it is precisely as a revolutionary tract, a 17th Century “Declaration of Independence” that the Second Treatise of Government must be read.
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Smith, Commerce & the Common Good
“Adam Smith and the Commercial Republic.” The Public Interest No. 61 (Fall 1980): 106–122.
By far the most common diagnosis of ‘the American sickness’ is that the U.S. polity is suffering because of the undue influence of “special interests.” The usual cure recommended involves replacing the spirit of selfish striving with a disinterested devotion to the public good which is praised as one of the foundation stones of American republican virtue.
In Prof. Miller's judgement, however, the proper relation of “special interests” to American democracy, as the Founding Fathers conceived it, is not so simply put. In Federalist 10, Publius (pseudonym of Madison, Hamilton, and Jay) speaks of the beneficial “necessity” of diverse commercial interests in a civilized, progressive society. Publius' sentiments closely paralleled those of Adam Smith, an author read carefully by all “enlightened statesmen” of the time. However, the real Adam Smith was a much more complex figure than (as conventional wisdom would have it) the unflinching exponent of the market system. In fact, neither Publius nor Smith would have supported nineteenth-century dogmatists such as E.L. Godkin, who regarded all deviations from laissez-faire as an assault on republican government.
The full title of Smith's book, An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations, might mislead the casual reader. The work is less a treatise on developmental economics than a disquisition on what might be called the political philosophy in order to dignify the calculations of profit and loss in the eyes of thinking men.
Like Hume and Hobbes, Smith feared the instability that “factions” would engender under a regime of liberty. He thought, nonetheless, that violent factions were probably a thing of the past in Great Britain. The expansion of commerce, he reasoned, had made it less likely that Englishmen would embroil themselves in religious controversy, less likely that they would join parties of principle rather than parties of interest. Thus, according to Smith, special interests may bolster the stability which is essential to a liberal polity.
Despite his praise of the market economy's “invisible hand,” Smith conceived a wide and elastic range of activities for government. He was prepared to extend these activities if government proved itself worthy of increased public trust and if the private sector was not performing adequately in areas vital to the common good.
Smith, of course, favored free trade, but only because he was “proconsumer.” Business assured the real prosperity of the commonwealth (goods, not gold), including that of the poor. Despite this position, Smith continually attacked businessmen. Merchants and manufacturers, he argued, are not naturally proconsumer or free traders. More likely than not, they harbor protectionist sentiments, preferring short-term gain to their real interests, which closely correspond with the public good.
The wisdom and breadth of vision of the legislator would substitute for the narrowness and expediency of businessmen. Smith, Hamilton, and Madison all believed in what may be called a “two-track” polity, consisting, on the one hand, of a “natural aristocracy” of hero ic and disinterested virtue and, on the other, of a commercial class characterized by such pedestrian, but highly necessary qualities as moderation, thrift, calculation, and compromise. This sober, somewhat hopeful, though hardly compelling vision was scorned in the nineteenth century by such thinkers as Nietzsche and Marx, who propounded theories of societies untainted by the motive of self-interest. In the twentieth century, we have seen those dreams turn into the nightmares of Nazi and socialist man. By contrast, the considerably less ambitious views of Smith and the Founding Fathers have fostered the unprecedented prosperity and political stability enjoyed by the American people for more than two centuries.
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Antifederalism: Military & Civilian Concerns
“Antifederalism and Libertarianism.” Reason Papers 7 (Spring 1981): 73–94.
The Antifederalists of the eighteenth century opposed ratification of the federal Constitution in 1787–88, and espoused a brand of libertarianism that is frequently misunderstood by students of American political philosophy. In their arguments against the Constitution, the Antifederalists repeatedly warned that the establishment of a strong, centralized national government would result in coercion, the erosion of state and local governments, and a loss of civil liberties. Their rhetoric is often shrill and sometimes even paranoid, but these “true radicals” were largely responsible for the amended Bill of Rights that further defined and limited the role of government.
When one considers the Antifederalist view of the course of the Revolution, their logic and fervor become more intelligible. The Antifederalists believed the federal Constitution to be an outright repudiation of the goals and ideals of the American Revolution. For the Antifederalists, the Revolution had been fought as a direct challenge to strong, centralized authority, the authority of the British crown. The legacy of the Revolution was thus antiauthoritarianism—a belief in democratic, local control and a subservient national government. Though they admitted the weaknesses and need for change in the Articles of Confederation, the Antifederalists were appalled at the degree of control allowed of government in the Constitution. The “undemocratic pects” of the Constitution—the absence of compulsory rotation in office, of recall, and of annual elections; the vast and important powers of the presidency; and the proposed powers of the Supreme Court—spelled trouble to the Antifederalists. They predicted that the “Federal City” would be filled with “officers, attendants, suitors, expectants, and dependents” all safely out of the reach of the people.
One power granted the federal government under the proposed Constitution and vehemently opposed by the Antifederalist party was the power of taxation. Again, this position was rooted in the Revolutionary experience, as was the Antifederalists' advocacy of federal external taxation (tariffs, import duties, etc.) as opposed to the internal taxation proposed by the Federal Constitution. The Antifederalists believed that the ability to tax “is the most important of any power that can be granted; it connects with it almost all other powers, or at least will in proces of time draw all others after it.” They were afraid that federal taxation would take vital revenue away from the states and eventually eliminate the importance of state government.
The final thorn in the side of the Antifederalists was the creation of a professional standing army, believing that “standing armies are dangerous to the liberties of a people.” They warned that the “power vested in Congress of sending troops for suppressing insurrections will always enable them to stifle the first struggles of freedom.”
An intriguing aspect of the Antifederalists' opposition to a standing army is their prediction that civil liberties might be violated in the raising of such an army. One Antifederalist accurately predicted the draft resistance problems that were to mark American history from the Civil War to Vietnam, when he warned that the proposed Constitution would allow the central government to “impress men for the Army.”
The Antifederal party refused to ratify any plan of government without a “Sacred Declaration, defining the rights of the individual.” They were disturbed that a document that granted the national government so much power did not, at the same time, specifically enumerate the inalienable rights of the citizenry. The Antifederalists agreed with Jefferson's criticism of the Constitution—that a “bill of rights is what a people are entitled to against every government on earth, general or particular, and what no just government should refuse or rest on inference.” The powers granted the central government in the proposed Constitution were so broad that the Antifederalists feared for the freedoms of speech, press, assembly, jury trial, habeas corpus, arms and religion—freedoms that they had just fought a long and trying Revolutionary War to secure.
There were two distinctly opposing sides in the debate over the “crisis” of the Confederation. The Federalists claimed that America was beset by chaos and bankruptcy and was on the verge of anarchy because of the impotent Confederation government. They advocated a great strengthening of the coercive powers of the national government via the proposed federal Constitution. Their opponents, the Antifederalists, advocated amendments to the Articles of Confederation but violently opposed such a radical departure from state and local sovereignty as the Federalists were advocating. As it turned out, the Federalists won and the Antifederalists lost their one great battle, but their ideas have endured. The Jeffersonian and Jacksonian parties of the early national period had direct ideological roots in the Antifederalist persuasion, and American classical liberalism of the nineteenth century was a direct descendant of Antifederalism. There is a small libertarian third party in the United States today, and vestiges of Antifederalism can be found in the civil libertarian strain in twentieth century American liberal thought.
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Isaiah Berlin: Pluralism vs. Rationalism
- Bowling Green State University
“Reason, Development, and the Conflicts of Human Ends: Sir Isaiah Berlin's Vision of Politics.” The American Political Science Review 74 (March 1980): 38–52.
At the root of the conflict between Isaiah Berlin's political philosophy and his critics is the controversy over the possibility of certainty and over the relation of human ends to politics. Berlin denies that any of us can demonstrate that one particular way of life is morally superior to any other. He draws from this the liberal conclusion of our need to tolerate one another.
Berlin's “moral pluralism” is a fairly unique defense of tolerance and freedom. For Berlin, accepting the belief that every question has only one true answer leads to the dogmatic absolutism of forcing everyone to live by the light of “reason.” Calling this belief “rationalism,” Berlin seeks to expose its mischievous intolerance as at the heart of various political theories: “One belief, more than any other is responsible for the slaughter of individuals on the altars of the great historical ideals.... This is the belief that somewhere, in the past or in the future...there is a final solution.” Two rival approaches thus divide our views of politics and society. Theorists of the first group are called rationalists, monists, or “hedgehogs”; the second group includes empiricists, romantics, pluralists, and “foxes.”
Berlin's account of moral pluralism encounters difficulties since it rests on “rationalist” assumptions of its own. Berlin's view of human nature insists that there is one eternal a prioristic truth: to be human, men must be capable of living life for their own purpose. Berlin's “emphasis on freedom and choice requires that we act in such a way as not to deny others the possibility of making their own choices about life.” Berlin exhibits a compelling vision of liberal politics. Despite logical flaws, his vision is inspiring: to deny humans the right to choose their life plans for themselves is a violation of their personhood.
Professor Kochis believes that by considering Berlin and his critics, we can gain insight into the nature of politics. “Most of Berlin's critics fail to deal with Berlin's central claim. Either they concede his equation of rationalism, dogmatism, and despotism; or they fail to deal with the tendency of rationalistic views to entail unitary, coercive plans. This conflict is basic to considering the controversy between the rival claims of “negative” and “positive” liberty. According to Berlin positive liberty means implementing some single vision to which all humans must conform and so denies the pluralist vision of the freedom of humans to choose their own varied ends.
Berlin's critics include the following who criticize his vision of liberty either “for including too much politics” or for excluding politics.
On the one hand, we find MacCallum and Macpherson. Gerald MacCullum reduces Berlin's belief about the political nature of human freedom to a question of formal logic. MacCullum's overformalist criticism “obscures the political question of whose value a free person is at liberty to pursue.”
C.B. Macpherson desires to terminate liberal politics and install participatory economic planning and thus denies that his “positive” liberty is “rationalistic” or “political” in Berlin's invideous sense. But Macpherson's reasoning fails because he confuses liberty with its conditions and also assumes a rational pattern for human moral development.
On the other hand, Berlin's defense of negative liberty is believed to be too apolitical by Bernard Crick (in “Freedom as Politics”) who understands politics as active participation in the polis to achieve the good life for all.
Finally, Professor Kochis shows that Berlin's conceptions of politics as a form of human interaction (to bring about the conditions of human dignity in a situation where we disagree about the ends of life) is an effort to liberate individuals to live life for their own chosen purposes. But Berlin's defense of liberty is incomplete and too skeptical. We need “a non-teleological yet developmentalist account of human nature and a weakly hierarchical account of human values.” Liberty is of special importance, but, for Kochis, it is not the highest or most important of values. “Liberty, then, is a true and humane ideal because it provides people with the...assurance that no one will be able to dictate their goals to them.”
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Feyerabend on Freedom and Diversity
“Freedom, Reason, and Tradition.” Review essay on Paul Feyerabend's Against Method and Science in a Free Society. Reason Papers No. 6 (Spring 1980): 83–91.
In the humanistic and nondogmatic tradition of Protagoras, Socrates, and Nietzsche, philospher Paul Feyerabend has expanded our understanding of the meaning of reason and its bearing on a free society. Feyerabend's two major works, Against Method: Outline of an Anarchistic Theory of Knowledge (1976) and Science in a Free Society (1979), pose the important question: What is the reasonable and humane stance (epistemology) for mankind to take regarding rival beliefs and competing “truths”? The ideals of a humanitarian, free, and progressive society require us to “keep all our options open” and, in Socratic fashion, to welcome an evolving, self-critical, and tolerant attitude to any belief or tradition.
In terms of human knowledge, Feyerabend believes that “nothing is ever settled.” Since “science, history, and human beings are evolving, adhering to a strict system of rules is detrimental to learning and human freedom.” We should not start out with the unreasonable assumption that the tradition of Western science and Enlightenment rationalism have more rational methods than, say, history, myth, or literature. A humane openness to a variety of competing traditions, cultures, and approaches to truth is better calculated to allow for the growth of objective knowledge than any rigid or closed system that asserts its monopoly on truth.
As individuals we are fallible and have to admit our relative human ignorance in a universe that is largely unknown to us. Freedom consists in expanding our options and recognizing that there is no single, immovable Archimedes' citadel of objective, static truth outside the “ever increasing ocean of mutually incompatible (and perhaps even incommensurable) alternatives.” We need to honor a “pluralist methodology” and seek out a method of knowledge that encourages variety as “the only method that is compatible with a humanitarian outlook.”
It follows that Feyerabend views rationalism, scientism, and traditional philosophical standards as embedded in a particular tradition and thus can't be expected to neutrally judge other traditions. His pluralist methodology favors combining different views in a Hegelian-style synthesis. His “interactionism” would combine the “ocean of alternatives” in an unending process of temporary shifting, and relative constructs. Much as a traveller to a foreign country wisely keeps an open mind rather than provincially interpreting the wider world by the standards of his village's traditions, the free and philosophic person accepts truth in all its varieties.
Feyerabend defines a free society as one “in which all traditions have equal rights and equal access to the centers of power... A tradition receives these rights not because of the importance it has for outsiders (“observers”) but because it gives meaning to the lives of those who participate in it.” Freedom is a higher value than one limited tradition's notions of truth or reason. Feyerabend combines his critique of any one tradition having the scientific version of the “One True Religion” with arguments against cultural chauvinism and western imperialism. He seeks a world where divergent cultures and peoples can live with freedom and humanitarian tolerance of one another.
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Braudel, History, and Patterns
- Northern Illinois University
“Annaliste Paradigm? The Geohistorical Structuralism of Fernand Braudel.” American Historical Review 86 (February 1981): 63–105.
Fernand Braudel gained international renown with the appearance in 1949 of his monumental study La Mediterranee et le monde mediterrane a l'epoque de Philippe II, a “seminal work” of the “Annaliste” historical school for at least two decades. Braudel considered his work to be, above all, an example of “structural” history. Thus, the Annales “paradigm” during the twenty years of his leadership might seem related to the structuralist models which have captivated the minds of French social scientists. But such an interpretation is misleading. Braudel's colleague Ernest Labrousse has emphasized the relation of Braudel's work to the old historiographical tradition of geohistory rather than to the new vogue of structuralist thinking.
La Mediterranee is divided into three parts which Braudel described, in the first edition, as dealing with three sorts of time: geographical, social, and individual. Three types of historiography correspond to the study of these three varieties of time. The first type, forming the “geohistory” of Part 1, seeks to grasp the “almost immobile history of man's relations with the milieu surrounding him.” The second part, dealing with social time, attempts to represent “a slowly rhythmic history...of groups and groupings” of people. Finally, the third part portrays a “history of short, rapid, nervous oscillations” of “traditional,” “eventful history,” which is comprised of the twists and turns of politico-military history. The order of these three histories, ranged in diminishing importance, emphasizes Braudel's disinterest in and scorn for the narrow history of diplomacy.
Braudel's work echoes and broadens the most important ideological directive of the earlier annalistes Bloch and Febvre—the directive to synthesize history with the other social sciences. A social science (as opposed to the outworn history of political events and leaders) collectivizes its object. As a result, Braudel sought a socially embedded but naturally generalized man. He saw the Mediterranean as a privileged area in which to pursue this search, since it is “a meeting place, an amalgam, a human unity.”
No longer self-determining or even collectively determining, the human individual shrinks and fades away in Braudel's pages before the grandeur of the environment. The geographical milieu assumes an all-consuming individuality. In a more than metaphorical sense, it becomes the only real actor and shaper in history. Man's short-sighted “free” actions to control the environment inevitably prove ineffectual in the face of the deep currents of history embodied in the might of the milieu.
The ideological assumptions underlying Braudel's geohistory closely resembles the “structural history” of Gaston Roupnel, as outlined in his History and Destiny. “The history of a people,” Roupnel wrote, “is determined...at the level of the soil, in its down-to-earth life.” Similarly, Part 2 of La Mediterranee stresses the concrete, repetitive, and enduring patterns (“structures”) which have marked social life in the area over centuries, i.e. the determining effects of routes (as in the pepper trade) and the placement of cities, the slowness of communication and transport, the inflexible cultural frontiers, etc. Thus, even human activities are considered in as long-range perspective—freed from the limitations of the “circumstantial individual.”
In Prof. Kinser's view, Braudel's heavy emphasis on long-range “structures” caused him to treat superficially or to neglect events that break such patterns. For example, the sixteenth century witnessed numerous insurrections, both urban and rural, which seemingly had few consequences—which “failed” in Braudel's terms. Given his bias, however, Braudel overlooks the deep connection between these “failed” revolts and the epoch-making revolution that was the Reformation.
Nevertheless, in general, Kinser sees in La Mediterranee a “rhetoric of space with its intoxicating vastness, of exchange with its ceaseless activity, and of life with its alluring warmth have inspired many others to construct equally new and compelling visions of the past.”
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Vouchers, Education & Choice
- Carleton University (Ontario)
“Choice or Monopoly in Education.” Policy Review (Winter 1981): 103–118.
Educational vouchers, one of the political and academic novelties of the 1980s, have recaptured public interest as a possible alternative to current modes of educational funding.
The “full” voucher scheme first proposed by Milton Friedman in 1955 would provide parents with certificates equal to the current average cost of educating a child in the public sector—today about $2,000 per year. Under Prof. Friedman's system, parents would be allowed to “add on” marginal funds of their own and to use vouchers at both private and public schools. Education would thus no longer be “free”, since all participating schools, public or private, would charge tuition at full cost.
Prof. West's article spells out reasons for the educational establishment's opposition to various voucher plans and goes on to explain the advantages of the Friedman proposal. On the basis of the newly developed economics of bureacracy and politics, West contends that in the absence of such consumer input as the voucher plan, three general predictions may be made concerning the future development of our educational bureaucracy.
First of all, there will be a tendency toward continual expansion of public education bureaus' monopoly on the teaching process (“bureaucratic imperialism”). The rapid “consolidation” of school districts in the U.S., as well the increasing state and federal share in educational financing, already bear out this prediction.
Secondly, alliances will emerge between these bureaus and the “factor supplies” (teachers, for example) which they employ. In fact, teacher organizations have generally supported the establishment of a central monopoly bureau (a Department of Education) since the very inception of the idea. These organizations have now joined in a tacit alliance to resist the threat to monopoly that vouchers represent.
Thirdly, a national education bureau will want to offer a total output in exchange for a total budget with no alternatives to its own program, an “all or nothing” choice. Voucher proposals strike at the heart of this instinct for monopoly financial control, since they would provide the money for as diverse an educational system as “customers” were willing to pay for.
Among many criticisms levelled against vouchers, it has been charged that this individualized financial arrangement would allow parents to place their children in schools which would merely be narrow ideological extensions of the home. Students would thus lack the contact with a diversity of backgrounds and viewpoints which is essential to the democratic process. Prof. West finds it ironic that, in the name of democracy, “enlightened” bureaucrats would deprive parents of the right to educate their children as they see fit.
Critics have also charged that “addons” to vouchers by the wealthy will foster a wide educational disparity between rich and poor. First of all, this charge assumes that poorer parents will not add on money themselves for the sake of their children's future—a condescending supposition belied by the experience of U.S. parochial schools. In addition, a large disparity already exists between rich and poor public school districts. For example, $8,600 was spent per child in a year in one New York suburb, while $3,115 was spent in the city itself.
Besides contributing to freedom and diversity in education. Prof. West views a voucher system as a means of correcting the financial waste of the public school system. During the 1977–1978 school years yearly expenditures per pupil reached $819 in private schools versus $1,736 in public schools—or more than double. Competition encouraged by vouchers would, in West's opinion, halt the profligacy of an entrenched educational monopoly.
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Government, Violence and Social Instability
In contrast to the interconnections among freedom, choice, and social stability, the following summaries reveal a disturbing connection among government policy, violence (including warfare and economic repression), and social instability. This distressing nexus is a theme treated in Literature of Liberty's Editorial, and also sounded repeatedly in Justus Doenecke's bibliographical essay, “The Anti-Interventionist Tradition: Leadership and Perceptions.”
The opening summaries focus on three public figures—William Jennings Bryan, Thornstein Veblen, and John Dewey—and reveal different ideological defenses for using war as an instrument to achieve notions of fundamentalist morality, progressive social change, or pragmatic philosophy. The rationalizations behind the political use of force in domestic or international affairs are quite complex and mutually contradictory.
A less idealized picture of the social, economic, and cultural consequences of militarism, political violence, and regulation is sketched in other summaries beginning with Michael Klare's demonstration of the difficulties of having both “guns and butter.” The victims of political violence in these summaries include the American taxpayer, South African blacks, the Hopi Indians, the Post-Civil War South, Mexicans, Guatemalans, and British soldiers of the Victorian era.
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Bryan & Moralistic Foreign Policy
“Above the World: William Jennings Bryan's View of The American Nation In International Affairs.” Nebraska History 61 (Summer 1980): 153–171.
The image Williams Jennings Bryan (1860–1925) gained from the dramatic Scopes Trial (the 1925 trial involving the teaching of evolution in Tennessee's public schools) has been paradoxically either a “defender of the faith” or mountebank of prohibition and Christendom, yet this perception has neglected one of the major elements in Bryan's intellectual and political life, his vital patriotism and nationalism. That neglect in turn has obscured the dynamic consistency of Bryan's diplomacy.
Central to Bryan's Populism of 1896 and his anti-evolutionary Puritanism in 1925 was his belief in the American nation, God's will embodied in and through the common people. America was not like European nations; it was uniquely Christian and democratic to the degree that “the people” were to have absolute power. Democratic Christianity and progressive patriotism were the pillars of Bryan's intellectual heritage and style. He was convinced that Americans had a destiny to civilize the world, yet he did not presume this destiny to be bestowed by a subjective God. Rather, a basic tenet of his Americanism was that the nation controlled destiny, not the reverse.
Bryan assumed that to remain potent, the United States must remain pure in terms of both ideal and racial composition. America must “insist upon the unity and homogeneousness of our nation” for its strength, thus Bryan was alarmed at the “Yellow Peril's” threat to “white supremacy.” This same belief was the basis of his case against the Scopes. The people had the right to exclude “false teaching” because they had a prior obligation as citizens—to be united and to be subordinate to the cause they served.
Bryan did not think in terms of individuals but in terms of “the people.” For Bryan national interest had to be understood as a people united in a cause. The national interest was totally separate from the interests of individual nationals. Because each individual needed to devote himself to the overriding purpose of the nation, private interests of individual Americans were subordinate to national interest rather than constituting it. For Bryan, not individuals, but “the people are the source of power.” Building from early emphasis on “homogeneousness,” Bryan's beliefs required unquestioning obedience to the will and voice of the people, and the nation's vitality depended on legitimate expression of the will of the people. America would triumph because there “the voice of the people...(is) the voice of God.”
But total domestic unity and harmony was only the foundation upon which Bryan built his proud Americanism. Inspired by the ever-newly-created unity, America had to be unique, an exemplary manifestation of idealism and God's will. As God's extraordinary people, the “voice of God” in the midst of an explosive and despotic world, Bryan's “conquering nation” was a dynamo to regenerate the world. To remain genuinely unique America had to be independent from and superior to European nations. As he fought to prove at the Scopes trial, evolution was an import from the Old World and therefore to be expunged by the people. Bryan's brand of Americanism required that America be involved in the world's affairs only on its own terms. The United States sought world cooperation only in order to secure its foremost position in international affairs.
The final element of Bryanesque nationalism was his belief that because of the United States' historical association, economic dependency, cultural affinity, and geographical proximity, she had special responsibilities as the civilizing benefactor to the world. Domestically, Bryan thought the United States could be a monolithic community. Internationally he thought America still dominated her hemisphere and could by sheer energy and purity of commitment re-order the world.
So enchanted was Bryan by the bright glow produced by the flame of American nationalism, that he understood neither the destructive potential in the coercive domestic power of American nationalism nor the limitations of other countries, nationalism and national interests. Yet the America he believed in was totally vulnerable to domestic intolerance and international arrogance, as events in the twentieth century have glaringly proven.
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War and Social Change
- North Dakota State University
“‘For the Period of the War:’ Thorstein Veblen, Wartime Exigency, and Social Change.” Mid-America: An Historical Review 62 (April-July 1980) 91–104.
Few of the participants in American history have been discredited more consistently than those people on the political left who supported American entry into the First World War and who served the government during that conflict. Though most historians concede that pro-war leftists supported the war and worked for the government because they thought the conflict would bring changes beneficial to society, this public reason masked a private lust for power, influence, and social approval.
Thorstein Veblen was one radical who supported American entry and pursued a position in the Statistical Division of the United States Food Administration. Veblen was enthusiastic about the Allied cause, and he did hope the war would result in major economic and social changes, but Prof. Danbom contends that Veblen did not surrender his principles or become seduced by the image of power. In fact, Veblen's hopes that the war would lead to change never overwhelmed his basic belief that it would not. His support for the war and his government service entailed no violation of his fundamental principles, and he quickly resigned his Federal post when he recognized he was having no impact on policy.
Veblen's actions can be explained by his early perception of the war's importance. In Imperial Germany and the Industrial Revolution, published in 1915, Veblen expressed his belief in the importance of a German defeat in the war. He believed Germany was a particularly dangerous power, because its economic strength fed a state animated with dynastic ambitions of dominion. Germany had been able to retain a “retarded adherence to certain mediaeval or submediaeval habits of thought, including an extraordinary “fealty or subservience” of the people to the state, because it had adopted advanced industrial technology quickly and late. The dynastic state had survived because “modern technology has come to the Germans ready-made, without the cultural consequences which its gradual development and continued use had entailed among the people whose experience initiated it and determined the course of its development.
Despite Veblen's fear of Germany, he did not abandon his skepticism regarding the Allies. Veblen was extremely cynical of the vested interests of power which controlled and determined a capitalist society. His hopes lay in the slight possibility that the war might result in the removal of the vested interests from power. That possibility hinged on the length and severity of the military struggle. If the war were long and severe, two things might occur which would weaken the vested interests. First, “military exigencies may over-rule the current demands of business traffic,” thus elitists would relinquish the seat of power (temporarily) to engineers and managers who could produce far more efficiently. Secondly, the citizen might come “to distrust the conduct of affairs by his betters, and trust his own class.”
Neither Veblen nor the others on the left who glimpsed a chance for change were necessarily deluding themselves. In Russia the vested interests were crumbling, in the Central Powers they seemed to be weakening, and even in England and France Veblen perceived the “individious distinctions of class, sex, wealth and privilege...giving way before the exigencies of a war that is to be fought to a finish.”
Veblen's assignment for the Food Administration was to assess the situation of the grain farmers in the Mid-west, who were experiencing both a serious labor shortage from the draft and the accelerating rural-urban migration. Veblen contended early in his memorandum that fears of a labor shortage were justified, and that the situation would worsen as the harvest season approached. What made the labor situation particularly volatile was the fact that a large majority of migratory harvest workers were members of the Agricultural Workers Industrial Union, a component of the Industrial Workers of the World, or Wobblies, a revolutionary anarchosyndicalist labor organization. The A.W.I.U. had never been friendly to the farmers for whom its members worked, and the farmers returned the hostility. In addition, the Federal government had already stigmatized the Wobblies as unpatriotic and dangerous to the war effort. Veblen attempted to counteract this unfavorable image, contending the Wobblies were in a “prevailing loyal frame of mind and willing to work amicably with the farmers.” The problem as Veben believed, was not between the farmers and workers, but for the town-centered vested interests which opposed both. Most unfortunate, in Veben's view, was the Federal government's involvement in this quarrel on the side of the townsmen. Thus Veblen saw the situation in the wheat-producing states as a microcosm of the normal order of things throughout the world: the parasitic vested interests, supported by the state, oppressing the productive classes.
Veblen suggested that the government drop prosecutions and harassment directed at Wobblies, and make an alliance with them. Veblen's proposal should be seen as a test of the willingness of government to impart legitimacy to a despised group in the interest of wartime efficiency rather than as a plan for social control. The government's unwillingness to undertake any of Veblen's policy changes revealed the determination of the elite to cling to its power regardless of the exigency of war to make necessary changes.
Veblen was guilty of an intense and partisan interest in the war, but that interest did not lead him to abandon his principles. Although attracted to power, he was unwilling to alter his principles in order to get or hold it. Veblen's hopes had been high enough to tempt him to shed his characteristic diffidence and to enter government service, but he had always remained pessimistic about the probable results of the war. Veblen's experience, however, should at least indicate to us that the popular historical model of the behavior of pro-war leftists does not apply in every case.
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Dewey, Pragmatism, and War
- University of California at Irvine
“John Dewey in Peace and War.” The American Scholar 50 (Spring 1981): 217–236.
Does Pragmatism work? Many scholars remained convinced that the rise of pragmatism not only liberated progressive thought from the deductive chains of nineteenth-century conservative ideology, but even resolved the crisis of authority that confronted an American mind coming to terms with twentieth-century modernity. Man thinking became man doing, and the challenge was not so much to contemplate life as to “experience” it. But, can pragmatism help resolve the crisis of authority in history by providing authoritative knowledge about history? In this connection how did John Dewey, the leading exponent of pragmatism in the twentieth century, respond to historical events and interpret the meaning and direction of history itself.
The outbreak of World War I confronted Dewey's pragmatism with one of its greatest challenges, as he always held up rational intelligence as the tool for settling disputes. However, Dewey came out in support of America's entry into the war and justified his new position with a well-developed rationale. He was convinced that America's entry into the war could not be resisted, thus Dewey argues that the war would compell the intellectual to reconsider the “intelligent use of force” in international affairs. Dewey justified America's entry by trying to show the compatibility of pragmatism and war, an effort that led him to distinguish force from violence, contending that force need not always be evil but sometimes has attributes of energy and power which lead to positive results.
The dilemma that Dewey courageously faced actually confronted the most sensitive minds of the entire World War I generation, in Europe as well as America: the “horror” of unexplained events. To overcome this sense of intellectual helplessness, Dewey advised the troubled liberal to “connect conscience” with the “forces” that were violating it. If the purpose of authority is to get itself obeyed, Dewey wanted to get intellectuals to obey the processes of history, “the moving forces of events.” In doing so, Dewey was assuming that one can control history by becoming its agent. This assumption would render individual judgment indistinguishable from the forces that are shaping it by counseling subjective obedience to objective events. Legitimate authority would thus become external to its subjects, while political consciousness, the ability to reflect on power, would be lost to the forces of history.
Here is where the fundamental paradox lies in the basis of Dewey's attitude toward history. Although he looked to human experience as the test of truth, historical experience could never be the source of history. The purpose of history is considered to be the discovery of the great moral lessons of the past that we should know in order to obey, yet this could hardly be endorsed by Dewey who saw historical reality as an indeterminate series of unique events from which no clear lessons could be drawn. Dewey was deeply convinced that the past, simply as past, is wholly unknowable and devoid of any antecedent reality; thus, if the past cannot authorize the present, why are we obligated to return to it? Only the future can verify our ideas about the past. Dewey always believed that the democratic spirit animating empirical method would provide a new basis for authority, a systematic means by which disputes could be settled without resorting to arbitrary, dogmatic authority, on the one hand, or force and violence on the other. In 1917, Dewey believed that democracy would be expanded by aligning itself with the forces of history.
However, the outbreak of World War II brought a theoretical impasse in the philosophical position of Dewey regarding politics and world affairs. By 1939, he argued that to resist force with force was to become the captive of the very thing America was fighting—the ideologies of a corrupt and corrupting continent. The lessons of World War I, the Versailles settlement and demands for its revision, and the “Red Scare” of 1919 taught Dewey that American democracy would collapse under the strain of another international war. This conviction reoriented Dewey's entire perspective on events and rendered pragmatism an unworkable tool of historical analysis. For history now emerged in Dewey's mind as something to be feared rather than mastered, a specter from the past endowed with a curious repetitive power that seemingly could be grasped by reason rather than by experiment. Dewey had spent almost his entire intellectual career advising Americans on how to use history to solve problems, insisting that we study the past in light of the present. Now he was approaching the present in light of the past, allowing the experience of World War I to shape his outlook toward World War II. Dewey symbolizes a mind divided against itself, the existential man who, as Kierkegaard might put it, desires to live forward and is condemned to think backward. Dewey ended his career a prisoner of the past, haunted by a memory that now came close to constituting the very seat of authority. The irony of pragmatism, Diggins concludes, is that because it is unable to certify as truthful that which we need to know before we act, the philosophy cannot provide knowledge precisely when it is most valuable. As Hobbes's observation wryly states “truth is hell seen too late.”
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Militarism: A Domestic & Foreign Affair
“Resurgent Militarism.” In Holly Sklar (ed.), Trilateralism: The Trilateral Commission and Elite Planning for World Management. Boston: South End Press, 1980, pp. 269–291.
Behind the resurgent militarism of the present day are powerful interest groups with important ties to the armaments industries or to the communities in which these industries are located. Among these special interest groups are members of the Trilateral Commission, a “policy studies” organization which is committed to U.S. military supremacy and to U.S. dominance within a tripartite alliance that includes the United States, Western Europe, and Japan. The consequences of renewed militarism are so dangerous that we need to understand and expose the political-economic forces that are promoting it.
In part, rising militarism is a calculated response to the diffusion of power throughout the world. The emerging decline of U.S. power is seen by the trilateralists as a good reason for renewing our commitment to the core interests upon which America's prestige and prosperity rest. First and foremost among these interests is the continued solidarity of the three leading centers of Western economic activity: Western Europe, the United States, and Japan. Military supremacy is seen as a good way to promote this solidarity by increasing Western power relative to Soviet power.
As long as the U.S. economy was expanding, it was believed that the Welfare State and U.S. military supremacy were compatible goals.
But when forced to choose between guns and butter, major interests have chosen to favor guns and militarism. In order to secure their dominance within the trilateral framework, trilateralists can see no other choice than to expand U.S. military capabilities—a choice that may be incompatible with solving U.S. internal problems.
The results of this rising militarism work against solving U.S. domestic problems. Groups fighting for public funds have to compete for the leftovers of an economic pie already carved up and devoured by military priorities. Military preparations require unassailable secrecy, and thus, in the name of national security, the powers of the military and the presidency grow with a commensurate loss in self-government.
Military spending also contributes to inflation and economic stagnation by rewarding corporations for maximizing their costs of production through “cost-plus-fixed-fee” contracts. Finally, military spending increases the risks of war by forcing us to carry out threats when things fail to work according to plan. We can no longer pretend that foreign policy is separate from domestic policy. We need to confront the new militarism as the number one domestic issue as well.
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Western Support for Apartheid
“Apartheid and Trilateralism: Partners in Southern Africa.” In Holly Sklar (ed.), The Trilateral Commission and Elite Planning for World Management. Boston: South End Press, 1980, pp. 352–376.
Despite international boycotts and armed resistance against white South Africa, the trilateral countries have largely supported the regime of racism or “apartheid” in South Africa together with the bogus “reform” movement that seeks to extend and strengthen apartheid. Among the reasons for supporting apartheid, the critical ones are economic: the trilateral countries are heavily dependent upon the strategic minerals that are mined in South Africa. South Africa ranks fourth among the world's nations in known reserves and exports of minerals necessary for industrialization: chromium, manganese, cobalt, platinum, uranium, and gold. The mining industries themselves depend upon cheap Black labor, and the Black liberation movement represents a threat to securing needed minerals and metals at a price that favors Western capital.
Apartheid itself is based on government legislation which robbed the African farmers of their land, excluded Blacks from skilled job categories, shifted Blacks to resource-deficient areas, and denied Blacks any political participation in the government of South Africa. International capital supports apartheid by its mining investments—investments which attain high profits by the low costs of a largely nonunionized and mostly migrant labor force.
Criticism of trilateral countries' cooperation with the minority regime in South Africa has sparked a “reform” movement to improve the international image of apartheid. However, the “reforms” that have taken place actually strengthen apartheid, while doing little to dismantle it. Labor legislation, for example, denies Blacks the right to strike and empowers the government to control union membership and to deny any union affiliation with political parties. Influx control laws prohibit Blacks from remaining in urban areas without a job or approved housing, while increasing penalties for any employer hiring “illegal” urban Blacks. Even so, the national liberation movement is growing in strength, and it remains to be seen whether the trilateral-backed South African reform effort will revitalize the minority regime or hasten its demise.
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U.S. Pacification of the Hopi
“Evangelists, Educators, Ethnographers, and the Establishment of the Hopi Reservation.” The Journal of Arizona History 21 (Winter 1980): 363–390.
Historians have heretofore described the establishment of the Hopi Reservation in the Arizona Territory by President Chester A. Arthur in 1882 as a reaction to two outside pressures. The first was the migration of the nomadic Navajo who had begun to settle on traditional Hopi lands. The second was the beginning of Mormon settlements near the reservation. The Navajo threats to Hopi crops and livestock, compounded by the prevailing hostility to the spread of Mormonism, led Indian agents to “recommend that a reservation, of sufficient extent...to meet their wants, be at once set apart by the Government for them before any further encroachments be made upon the domain which they have so long occupied.”
There is little reason to doubt that these factors played a role in the decision to set up the Hopi (Moqui) Reservation. McCluskey's search through manuscript records shows, however, that the immediate cause that instigated the action was a dispute between partisans of missionary Charles A. Taylor and former government Indian agent John H. Sullivan over the execution of Indian policy at the Hopi Agency.
The Indian policy of the 1870s and 1880s had been formulated during President U.S. Grant's administration (1869–1877) as an attempt to pacify the Indians with civilian rather than military means. The nomadic lifestyle of most native tribes caused continuous conflict with the expanding farms and ranches of the Anglo-American settlers, and the inevitable collision threatened to lead to the physical extermination of the Indians. The framers of the “peace policy” envisioned forcing them on reservations where they would be educated in the ways of white farmers during the transition from paganism, tribalism, and communal economy to Christianity, civilization, and individual homestead title to land.
The chosen instruments of the peace policy were to be Indian agents appointed by the President and the Senate on the basis of nominations by missionary groups; each tribe was assigned to a specific religious domination. In the 1870s scarcely anyone seriously considered, let along advocated, the preservation of Indian cultures in their pristine state. Sympathy for Indian culture, criticism of Anglo-American ways, and pessimism regarding the possibility of an immediate transformation of the Indians was perceived by some as a direct challenge to the government's Indian policy.
A long drawn out struggle for control of the Hopi Agency ensued between the enthusiastic and ethnocentric missionary Charles A. Taylor and the more sympathetic Indian agent John H. Sullivan, who advocated tolerant and slowly-evolving policies of assimilation for the Indians. On a more abstract level this conflict reflected the differing views of the participants on the proper relations between church and state, on the methods and goals of civilizing the Indians, and even on the ethnocentric assumptions underlying the government's Indian policy. The Indian Bureau's response in establishing the Hopi Reservation can be seen as a prime example of a bureaucracy making a fundamental decision in an atmosphere of crisis. This atmosphere did not arise out of an urgent need to protect the Hopi from Navajo and white settlers, but out of a need to protect the bureaucracy itself from those outsiders (Indian sympathizers) who might interfere with the agent's execution of its policies.
With the eventual dissolution of the agency and the establishment of the reservation, the Hopi were afforded a brief respite from the activities of teachers and missionaries. During this time they could begin to come to grips with Anglo-American culture on their own terms. The goals of the peace policy were not to be achieved in a short time by Taylor's methods of shaming the Indian to abandon his ways. Rather, a slow process of giving positive example was required. The peace policy proposed evangelizing and educating the Indians to free them from the ties of family, clan, and ritual society and to convert them into competitive individuals. The government framers of the peace ignored the reality, however, that not only the Indians but also Anglos found their main source of social and economic support within extended families and their secondary bases of support within the community of a religious society. Among the Hopi such close ties, traditional religion, tribal organization and customs, and communal land holding still endure today. However, despite recurring Hopi resistance, the government Indian Bureau was on the reservation to stay, and the program of “civilizing” began in earnest.
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The Celtic South: The Aftermath of War
“The South from Self-Sufficiency to Peonage: An Interpretation.” American Historical Review 85 (December 1980):1095–1118.
Contemporary observers of the antebellum South frequently remarked that Southerners loved their leisure—or, as hostile observers used to say, they were lazy. “They (Southerners) seldom show any spirit of enterprise,” wrote Andrew Burnaby in 1759, “or expose themselves willingly to fatigue.... They are content to live from day to day.” Was this an accurate description of the pre-Civil War South?
According to Profs. McDonald and McWhiney, Southerners of all social classes would have rejected the naive and culture-bound assumption that people naturally seek to better their condition in the same way, and, in their article, they assemble considerable statistical evidence to demonstrate the abundance of leisure enjoyed in the South.
They estimate, for example, that, in 1850, a slave in rural Mississippi could have been expected to work, at the very most, 136 ten-hour days a year, compared with 310 such days for a “free” agricultural worker in the North. Work estimates for white farm laborers in Alabama in the same year run to only 11 forty-hour weeks per year. Of the South's nearly 557,000,000 total acres, fewer than 10 percent were improved by 1850. The undeveloped land and the ill-kept houses of the region gave to the causal observer the impression of grinding poverty. However, this impression was far from accurate.
Profs. McDonald and McWhiney comment that Southerners of this period lived quite literally “off the hog.” Virtually everyone, even those who owned no land, owned animals. They did not need to own land, since the open range prevailed throughout the South. Animals were simply branded or clipped and turned loose to graze the land—anybody's land. When the larder got low, plain folk simply went out and fetched another hog. For vegetables, almost no tillage was necessary. Green gardens once planted, grew wild, reseeding themselves year after year. Once a year—in the fall, after the livestock had fattened themselves on acorns and other nuts—herds were rounded up and driven to market as a cash crop. A few weeks of work in the spring and a few more in the fall, were all that was required to keep this marvelously self-sufficient system going.
The leisurely life style of the Southern plain folk was not a by-product of slavery, as many contemporary travelers thought. The authors see the Southern way as a classical example of what some cultural geographers have called “cultural pre-adaption.” Their preliminary data indicate that 70 percent of white Southerners were of Celtic extraction—mainly Welsh, Scots, Irish, and Scotch-Irish. Unlike Englishmen, but very much like Southerners, Celts preferred tending herds, which did not require the same physical toil involved in arable farming. As a result, visitors among Celtic peoples generally thought them indolent. These pastoral nations also preferred open-range husbandry—a way of life for most of the Scottish plain folk until well into the eighteenth century.
The postbellum period of Southern history witnessed a gradual, but inexorable transformation from leisurely plenty to toilsome misery. With the heavy loss of livestock during the Civil War, the disappearance of the open range, and the lack of capital among both freedmen and poor whites, tenancy and sharecropping reduced most whites and blacks to a system of virtual peonage. Burdened by debts, tenants were essentially fixed to the soil, leaving only at the landlord's bidding. By 1930, only 27 percent of farms in Alabama and Mississippi were operated by their owners.
This newly agriculturalized South was characterized by long work days and declining production. Hog production for instance, fell by 80 percent between 1860 and 1930, while, during the same period, the cotton crop dropped from 83,174,800 lbs. to 51,023,000 lbs. At the same time, poverty and disease sapped the strength of an overburdened and underfed population. Thus, a gigantic trap slowly and inexorably closed upon Southerners, until, by the first third of the twentieth century, almost no one in the once luxuriant region was free.
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The U.S. & Mexico: The Drug Connection
“Operation Condor: Mexico's Antidrug Campaign Enters a New Era. Journal of Interamerican Studies and World Affairs Vol. 22 No. 3 (August 1980): 345–363.
In the past decade Mexico has become one of the world's largest heroin producers, along with a growing capacity to cultivate, process, ship, and transship vast quantities of other illegal drugs. Drug trafficking in Mexico has grown under the pressures from domestic poverty, enormous profits, and American demand. U.S. officials have long sought to persuade their Mexican counterparts to use herbicides to permanently eliminate some drugs. “Until such time that herbicides were applied on a massive scale against marijuana and opium poppies, they argue, the annual Mexican campaign would prove an exercise in futility.” The Mexicans responded in the fall of 1975 by launching a new campaign called Operation Canador (later called Operation Condor) — an antidrug offensive that included the use of defoliant chemicals.
The Mexican government employed the most modern aerial technology to discover and spray the fields: remote sensors, multispectral and infrared photography, over 40 aircraft (most of which were provided by the U.S.) and even spy satellites. To combat drug-related corruption involving military officers, politicians, and judges the government began a new policy of constantly rotating commanders and officers to remove the temptation of becoming involved in the multimillion dollar drug business.
The first year of the campaign was relatively successful. Yet despite impressive results, it revealed only the tip of a massive opium/heroin iceberg located in the triangulo critico — the northwestern states of Sinaloa, Durango, and Chihuahua. The extent of the drug production in the triangle surpassed estimates: more opium plots, more processing laboratories, more weapons, more desparate campesinos, more corruption, more lawlessness, more money.
The eradication process began with high level multispectral reconnaisance photographs which revealed the numerous marijuana and opium plots. Following confirmation by low-level flights, the opium fields were sprayed by helicopter with 2 & 4-D, the marijuana plots with Gramoxone. Squads of soldiers were then ferried in by helicopter to secure the area and destroy any surviving plants. The process often proved extremely hazardous for pilot, soldier, and campesino.
Pilots flying at low-level often encountered heavy ground fire; others were killed when their helicopter blades struck well hidden cables strung between hill-sides. Many soldiers were killed leaving their helicopters when the campesinos defended their plots instead of hiding or replanting their fields as soon as the soldiers departed.
The government antidrug project has brought economic disaster to the agrarian society. Rendered unable to survive off the land, desperate campesinos are flooding the cities and streaming across the U.S. border as illegal immigrants. The army's efforts to pacify the country-side has been difficult and controversial; however, the restoration of law and order has had some success. During 1976 there were 2–3 drug related homicides daily in parts of the triangle. Following a year of martial law, the figure has been reduced to one killing every 3 days.
The impact of Operation Condor on the U.S. drug scene has been far-reaching. The percentage of the U.S. heroin market captured by “Mexican brown” has declined from 85% in 1974 to 50% in 1978. Deaths resulting from heroin overdose dropped 80% from 1976 to 1979.
Craig concludes by speculating as to why Mexico finally opted for the extensive use of herbicides and the massive military presence in eliminating its drug market. First, government officials were very embarrassed by the fact that Mexico has become a major source of heroin. Not only was Mexico's international image tarnished, but increased domestic drug use was becoming a major concern.
Second, the entire revitalized campaign was inexorably linked with Mexico-U.S. relations. Vast quantities of oil not-withstanding, friendly relations with Washington are politically and economically crucial to Mexico City. When Mexico replaced Turkey as the prime source of heroin for the U.S. market in the early 1970s, narcotics became a priority target for American diplomats in Mexico City.
Perhaps the more decisive factor in the minds of Mexican officials was the possibility that drugs would produce internal chaos and pose a serious threat to regional stability. The components—increasingly more violent defiance of Mexican law and authority, the infusion of enormous sums of money poured into rural areas that came to dominant economies and politics, and these combined trends breeding possible rural guerrilla movements—made local and regional governments increasingly insecure.
International and internal concerns, especially U.S. pressure, led to the creation of Operation Condor and its continued existence to rid Mexico of illegal drug production and export.
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Political Violence in Guatemala
- University of Texas at San Antonio
“A Guatemalan Nightmare: Levels of Political Violence, 1966–1972.” Journal of Interamerican Studies and World Affairs 22 (May 1980): 195–225.
The origins of political violence in the Central American state of Guatemala lie in a tradition of repression of rural labor dating back to the Spanish colonial era. Guatemala moved toward mid-twentieth century with a well-entrenched pattern of public and private violence to ensure conformity of workers with the rigid central government controlling the political and economic order.
The period beginning with the over-throw of dictator Jorge Ubico in 1944 brought dramatic changes in that order, leading to the contemporary political violence which now characterizes Guatemalan society. Democratization under the administrations of Juan Jose Arevalo (1944–1950) and Jacobo Arbenz (1950–54) encouraged redistributive policies, bringing campesinos and industrial workers previously unknown economic and political power. The resultant pressures struck hard at the local business and landed elites, at such U.S. interests as United Fruit, at the “containment” orientation of U.S. cold war foreign policy, and at Guatemala's neighboring dictatorships.
By 1954 conservative forces had rallied (with the support of the United States, Nicaragua, Honduras, and El Salvador) and the acquiescent army of Guatemala permitted the “liberators” to oust Arbenz. Among the techniques both government and others employed to dismantle the earlier revolution's programs were torture, beatings, imprisonment, and murder of labor leaders.
Guatemalan society had become increasingly split between bitterly opposed segments favoring either progressive reform or conservative reaction. Frightened conservatives began to take matters in their own hands after the liberal Julio Montenegro was elected president in 1966. Right wing “death squads” were formed to terrorize any targets associated with the left or with reform. With the beginning of right wing terror, violence on both sides quickly escalated to horrific proportions.
Booth explores two structural theories in analyzing the causes of such widespread social violence. The first theory suggests that extensive or abrupt social change causes violence. The rapid modification of economic structures—of patterns of exchange, employment relationships, values of goods and services—and the shifting of traditional sources of social control instigate and escalate violent clashes within a society. Thus, the more intense and rapid the social change, the greater the violence.
The second structural theory focuses on the strength of the contending parties as the criteria of violence. Conflict would be most intense when the groups are approximately equal in strength.
Through his extensive research, Booth has concluded that the conflict in Guatemala has been most intense where the two hostile partisan poles have claimed fairly similar strength and electoral support. Unfortunately, lasting peace will probably elude Guatemala, as nearly four progressively more violent decades may have caused irreparable tears in the Guatemalan social fabric.
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The Monroe Doctrine & National Policy
- Southern Illinois University
“The Monroe Doctrine: Domestic Politics or National Decision?” Diplomatic History 5 (Winter 1981): 53–70.
With the publication in 1949 of Samuel Flagg Bemis' John Quincy Adams and the Foundations of American Foreign Policy, it seemed that all possible controversies concerning the origins of the Monroe Doctrine had been resolved. After close examination of the Adams family papers, Bemis concluded that the declaration of December of 1823 was the joint work of President Adams and Secretary of State Monroe, motivated by the desire to further the international interests of the fledging American republic. He also shared Perkins's view that the rejection of the British proposal for a joint policy statement stemmed from national and international objectives shared by both the president and his advisors.
Recently, however, Ernest R. May has challenged this view in his book The Making of the Monroe Doctrine. May wants to understand the motives behind the American decision to reject a joint statement with the British. He contends that the reaction of the president and his cabinet was shaped by the domestic political interests of the participants, especially those of three active candidates for the presidency: Secretary of State Adams, Secretary of War John C. Calhoun, and Secretary of the Treasury William H. Crawford. May argues that American officials knew that foreign intervention in Latin America was unlikely. As a result, they felt confident that they could trumpet their republicanism in this official statement and do little injury to the interests of the country.
Prof. Ammon reexamines the evidence provided by the Adams papers to ascertain whether May's contentions are well-founded. He concludes that May bases his ideas on circumstantial evidence but that the hard evidence of the papers supports the rival position taken by Bemis and Perkins.
Ammon finds that scanty and contradictory American intelligence reports made intervention in Latin America by the French or Spanish seem a distinct possibility. Thus, the American president and many of his advisors believed that the declaration was a response to an actual threat. Furthermore, the refusal to accept a joint statement with the British was most likely motivated by English reluctance to recognize the new revolutionary republics of Latin America, not by any fear of alienating an anti-British electorate. Monroe's characteristic staunchness in defending unpopular principles (as in the debate over Indian rights) does not suggest expediency.
Finally, Ammon points out that Adams' usual paranoia concerning the motives of political enemies appears only rarely in his description of events leading up to Monroe's statement. While he expresses contempt for the crass opportunism of Secretary of State Crawford, he does not voice the slightest suspicion of Calhoun, another political rival.
This evidence suggests that the Monroe Doctrine resulted essentially from considerations of national policy rather than domestic political struggles.
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Imperialism's Cost in Human Suffering
“The Human Cost of Imperial Defence in the Early Victorian Age.” Victorian Studies 24 (Autumn 1980): 7–32.
On the balance sheet of British imperialism, during the Victorian era, the debit side was heavily weighted by the sacrifice of the common soldier, not only of those killed in action, but of the many thousands more ravaged by disease, drunkenness, bad food, and squalid living quarters. “The story of Britain's imperial legions,” writes Prof. Burroughs, “is...as much a record of callous indifference to human suffering, incompetence in high places, and the wanton of expendable cannon fodder as of bravery and honor, glory and self-sacrifice.” The apathy and neglect so often shown by British senior officers toward the health and welfare of the common recruit found at least partial justification in the belief that the rank and file consisted in the main of shiftless, dissipated, and brutish ne'er-do-wells. Indulgent treatment of such ruffians seemed wholly inappropriate, even dangerous. Nonetheless, in the years after Waterloo, a more generous, humane view was espoused by reformists, as well as many civilian administrators at the War Office.
This enlightened approach was noticeably accentuated once Henry George Grey, Lord Howick, assumed office as secretary of war in April 1835. Through a wide range of reforms (good conduct pay, savings banks, libraries, improvements in rations and barrack accomodations, etc.), Howick attempted to better the conditions of army life for the ordinary life for the ordinary soldier. His campaign against death and sickness among troops at foreign stations was largely inspired by the statistical studies of army medical returns carried out in 1836 by Dr. Henry Marshall and Lieutenant Alexander Tulloch.
With the rapid expansion of the Empire, infantrymen posted overseas could count on an absence from home of at least 10 or 13 years at a stretch, and closer to 20 years if destined for India. At the end of a tour of duty, soldiers would be fortunate if they spent 4 years in Britain before being sent abroad once again. The prospect of nearly perpetual exile adversely affected morale and health, particularly among those unlucky enough to be ordered to tropical stations.
According to figures compiled by Lieutenant Tulloch, the annual mortality rate among civilians for military age in Britain stood at 11.5 per thousand. On foreign duty, however, British troops suffered considerably higher death rates: 85 per thousand in the Windward and Leeward Islands, 483 per thousand in Sierra Leone, and 668 per thousand at the Gold Coast (the highest in the Empire) where the evils of the environment were aggravated by an unbridled intemperance and a frenzied despair verging on madness.
Tulloch studies into the origins of diseases established a connection between the impoverished diet of the infantrymen (with its heavy emphasis on salt meats) and the incidence of digestive ailments, such as endemic dysentery. Reports by other investigators highlighted overcrowding in ramshackled barracks where space allocated for each soldier at times did not exceed 22 to 23 inches across. In such crowded conditions, catarrhal infections and lung diseases abounded.
On the strength of this evidence, Lord Howick argued to budget-minded M.P.s and senior officers that a false economy prevailed in British military policy. The cost of erecting sound, airy barracks, of providing a constant supply of fresh meat and vegetables, as well as allowing shorter tours of foreign duty would have been far more economical than continued expeditures for recruiting, training, and transporting reliefs from Britain to replace condition-caused casualties.
Unfortunately for the welfare of the common soldier, Lord Howick could convince neither Parliament nor his cabinet colleagues of the wisdom of such radical prescriptions. It would take the harrowing debacle of the Crimean War, not the statistical revelations of Tulloch, to ensure that many of Lord Howick's proposed reforms would finally be implemented.
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The Strategy and Logistics of Empire
“Technology and Imperialism: A Case Study of the Victorian Army in Africa.” Victorian Studies 24 (Autumn 1980): 83–104.
Writing in 1902, shortly after the early disasters of the South African War, Leopold Amery opened The Times History of the War in South Africa with an oft quoted indictment of the Victorian army. It was less a fighting force, he wrote, than an institution for elaborate pageantry and display. For two generations, Amery's criticisms and those of other contemporary proponents of reform have tended to color the lens through which historians view the Victorian army. In his paper, Prof. Bailes proposes a somewhat different view. Examining the conduct of two contrasting small wars (the Zulu War of 1879 and the Egyptian expedition of 1882), he argues that, despite the constraint under which the soldiers acted and the formidable logistical problems they faced, the Victorian army could be a highly effective and economical instrument of imperialism.
Among contemporary reformers, the Zulu War was generally regarded as a typical performance of the old school, characterized by ad hoc preparations and inital defeats which were then followed by hasty makeshifts at unwarranted expense. The part played by new-school strategist Sir Garnet Wolseley, who superseded Lord Chelmsford as high commissioner in eastern South Africa in May 1879, was limited to mopping-up operations, the capture of the Zulu king Cetewayo, and the suppression of the Basuto chief Sekukuni. The Egyptian expedition, on the other hand, was viewed as a campaign par excellence of the Wolseley school. To the general public, Wolseley's achievement seemed to be flawless—a repetition on a greater scale of his swift, economical performance on the Red River in 1870 and in Ashanti three years later.
Nonetheless, in comparing the failures and successes in supply, transport, and strategy of both campaigns, Prof. Bailes concludes that the Egyptian and Zulu wars were two of a kind, both sharing the chief features of Victorian warfare. Both were campaigns against distance and natural obstacles more than against man. In both we see organizations created for the moment and the deficiencies of the home contingents rectified by a variety of external assistance (native recruits, etc.). These operations also illustrate the gradual improvement in the imperial system of supply for expeditionary forces. They directly contributed, for example, to the formation of the Army Service Corps, a wholly military body established to conduct all executive duties of supply and transport.
The defects of the Victorian military system are clear enough from the history of both wars. One major weakness was that military reserves could be called out only by Parliament in the event of a national emergency. Thus, minor expeditions had to be provided for by various expedients: by volunteers called upon from regular and reserve units, by reducing standing garrisons, or by drawing upon the Indian army—in other words, by robbing Peter to pay Paul. Reformers continually pleaded for legislation to allow partial muster of the reserves whenever a home contingent was sent abroad. Until 1898, the reluctance of politicians to contemplate such a measure proved insurmountable. In that year, a new act allowed 5,000 reservists voluntarily to render themselves liable, in return for a small remuneration, to twelve months service in any expeditionary force.
Despite this belated and insufficient recognition of the needs of colonial campaigning, the Victorian army still faced formidable logistical and economic problems, which required continual improvisions in war. Nonetheless, Prof. Bailes concludes, Victorian soldiers could be quite capable of exploiting with intelligence and foresight their local resources and of discharging swiftly and effectively the aims of policy. After all, one final resemblance between the Zulu and Egyptian operations was that they were both victories for the British army and for the empire.
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Presidential Power vs. the Press
“Presidents, Power, and the Press.” Presidential Studies Quarterly 10 (Summer 1980): 416–426.
In the continuing contest for power between the American press and the executive branch of government, the president would seem to enjoy distinct advantages over his journalistic adversaries. With a large staff of media manipulators, an ability to grant, limit, or deny access to reporters, powers of secrecy, carefully timed press releases, and his domination of news conferences, the president wields an impressive array of weapons which are uniquely his own.
Nevertheless, Profs. Paletz and Entman view these advantages as distinctly limited. Ultimately, the media succeed in undermining the chief executive's power. In their article, Paletz and Entman trace the broad outlines of this undermining process.
Given their political and propaganda advantages, presidents might be expected to reign from the heights of public enthusiasm, party acclaim, and legislative subservience. In actuality, presidential power slowly erodes under the influence of four factors.
First of all, presidents are frequently bedeviled by untoward events which they can do little or nothing to control—the Scylla of inflation and the Charybdis of unemployment, hostages in Iran, disastrous undertakings such as Vietnam or Watergate, etc. In the face of such intractable situations, a president will inevitably appear impotent.
These problems will be augmented by institutional strains inherent in the American political system. Every president suffers from his constant and intermittent critics and antagonists: leaders of the opposition party, ambitious rivals in his own party, and interest group leaders. These explicit or covert enemies will seize upon and magnify any presidential ineptitude.
Thirdly, a president may never acquire the knack of media management or may develop it in one office and lose it in another. Journalists treat different political institutions and their members in varying ways. President Johnson, for example, mistakenly expected the same intimate relationship with White House reporters as he had enjoyed with Congressional journalists when he was Senate majority leader. He never completely managed the transition from cloister to fish bowl.
Lastly, while the president's aura of authority can lend prestige to any policy he endorses, much of this influence is reduced when journalists report on presidential forays into opinion management. These reports strip away the aura by placing the president's actions firmly in the context of the political. As a result, he is viewed, not as a special leader, but as just another politician seeking to retain and enhance his power.
During the Carter administration, the euphoric honeymoon period engineered by the press and the government's own media wizards led inevitably to a chorus of dismay and disillusion when the president's performance fell short of overblown expectations. The lowering of living standards, the raising of oil prices, and rampant inflation highlighted Carter's supposed incompetence.
Efforts by advertising specialist Gerald Rafshoon to shore up decling Carter standings in opinion polls were greeted by headlines such as “Adman Called in to Polish Carter's Tarnished Image.” After initial “patriotic” support for Carter's handling of the Iran hostage situation, the press began to depict the predicament (somewhat simplemindedly) as proof of a world-wide decline of American power.
Profs. Paletz and Entman regard this cyclical sabotage of U.S. presidents as largely unintentional. They feel, however, that this process threatens the paralysis of the innovative capacities of the presidency, which they believe can achieve domestic reforms against the forces of private interests.
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